South Sound News

Fired Pierce County deputy sentenced to prison for stalking wife, violating no-contact order

A former sheriff’s deputy in Pierce County who was fired last year has been sentenced to prison for stalking his now ex-wife and repeatedly violating a no-contact order.

Michael Phipps, 50, pleaded guilty in Pierce County Superior Court to stalking, first-degree malicious mischief, three counts of violation of a no-contact order and disclosing intimate images, The News Tribune reported.

Judge TaTeasha Davis on Monday imposed a high-end sentence of nearly 2 1/2 years in prison. Phipps’ attorney, Bryan Hershman, told the newspaper he thought the outcome of the case was fair overall.

Phipps received credit for the 468 days he’s served in confinement, according to court records, 345 of which were on home monitoring.

The former deputy caused at least $50,000 in damage to the Eatonville home he shared with his wife in May 2022, according to court records. She had obtained a protection order against him, and police had been trying to serve the order since March last year.

Prosecutors alleged Phipps knew about the order before it was served, and he sent texts to his wife that included explicit photos of her, threatening to send them to her boss and every contact they had.

His wife also alleged he shot a gun into the floor and grabbed her neck in a 2021 incident, according to a court filing in the protection order case. She said he was involuntarily committed in February last year after further incidents.

Attorneys wrote in court filings that Phipps sought mental health treatment following the death of colleagues and his father, but the medications he was prescribed were ineffective and he started self-medicating with alcohol.

Phipps was fired from the Sheriff’s Department shortly after he was arrested by Corona, California, police at a hotel last June. A department spokesperson previously said Phipps violated department policy on breaking the law. Phipps had been a deputy since November 2000.

He fled to California after he trashed their home, according to court records.

When police entered the house Phipps shared with his wife, they said they discovered water pouring out of light fixtures and vents. Water was flowing out of an upstairs toilet that had been smashed, and there was reportedly a gouge in the kitchen floor consistent with being struck with an ax.

The former deputy posted a $100,000 bail bond in October 2022 and was released to electronic home monitoring and alcohol monitoring. Phipps was allowed to go to treatment for substance abuse and therapy for post-traumatic stress. As part of his sentence, Judge Davis ordered Phipps undergo further treatment for mental health and alcohol abuse.