• Sheriff describes 'police corruption' after deputy arrest

    By: KIRO 7 STAFF

    Updated:

    Quick Facts: 

    • King County Sheriff’s deputy arrested Thursday morning.
    • Several others still being investigated for possible steroid use, knowledge of theft
    • Sheriff said he's addressing "police corruption"
    • Download a PDF of charging documents here

    A King County sheriff's deputy was arrested Thursday for investigation of promoting prostitution, theft and drugs.

    But the problems extend far beyond the lone deputy, Sheriff John Urquhart said at a Thursday afternoon news briefing.

    Members of the SWAT team were aware that the deputy, Darrion Keith Holiwell, was taking brass shells from a gun range where SWAT practices and sold them. Money went to a slush fund that was said to be affiliated with the Sheriff’s Office – but Urquhart said Holiwell kept that fund secret from commanders.

    There is also evidence that Holiwell sold steroids to members of the SWAT team. But the Sheriff’s Office can’t say exactly how many deputies may be steroid users – it’s against the law for them to test.

    Holiwell is being held on $150,000 bail, an amount set by a King County Superior Court judge. Click here to read a copy of the charges against King County Sheriff's deputy Darrion Holiwell.

    Asked if he would be concerned the safety of Sheriff’s Office employees if Holiwell posted bond, Urquhart said, “Yes.”

    “The State also has significant concerns for the safety of the community and the witnesses who have cooperated in the investigation and whose identities will be revealed,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Gary Ernsdorff wrote in court documents. “By all accounts, the defendant is a highly skilled marksman.”

    In April, police sources told KIRO 7 that the wife of Holiwell, a 19-year deputy with the Sheriff’s Office, is a professional sexual escort and that her husband was somehow complicit regarding the illegal activities.

    Holiwell was also being investigated after divorce documents he filed in King County Superior Court identify his wife as an “escort.”  A police source told KIRO 7 in April that the deputy was somehow complicit with the illegal activity of his wife, despite his position as a law enforcement officer. Click here to read Clancy's earlier story on the King County Sheriff's Office investigation.

    Urquhart said on Thursday that he asked a Major Crimes Unit detective to investigate the allegations when he learned of them and proactively contacted the FBI to alert them of the investigation.

    “This is a form of police corruption, I believe,” Urquhart said of Holiwell’s actions. The sheriff said he took roughly 19,000 pounds of brass shells over several years.

    “When you learn of his private life – (it’s like he was) two different people. Two absolutely different people,” Urquhart said.

    The thefts appear to have happened over the last eight years – something that started when Sue Rahr was King County Sheriff.

    “It tells me that people weren’t asking me the right questions, and those that did know thought it was alright,” Urquhart said when asked about the timeline.

    The sheriff had seen Holiwell before at the Ravensdale range. The arrested deputy even helped Urquhart get a better shooting score on a required marksman test.

    He also said there may be other charges for additional deputies who are being investigated. A major crimes detective is under investigation for rendering criminal assistance and obstruction because she’s believed to have tipped Holiwell when she learned of the investigation.

    That detective is one of two Sheriff Office staff on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

    “(It’s a) slap in the face to the Sheriff’s Office, to the rest of the SWAT team that was not engaged in this -- to the badge, to the profession, you name it,” Urquhart said.

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