Whatcom County...Uncovered! Updated 05-14-13
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05-14-13 WC...U Follow-Up: WCSO Lawsuit

The Second Key Event: Corruption In Whatcom County

As reported previously, there were two significant events leading up to former Deputy Sheriff Paul Murphy's running afoul of the WCSO administration, ie; Bill Elfo, and the subsequent decisions to go after him to eliminate him from the employment roster. This post will delve into the second key event, corruption in Whatcom County, Washington.

In a previous post, it was described what happened when Murphy reported a supervisor for his misconduct in regards to an off-duty relationship with a minor female. That alone probably caused Murphy to lose the support and good relationship with Elfo, who saw to it that the entire thing was buried and hidden from the public so that Cooley could be promptly promoted.

But if the Cooley reporting alone cause Elfo to change his opinion of Murphy, this next event certainly caused
the divide between the two to widen.

Now trying to put oneself into Murphy's shoes in these matters, it appears that Murphy is of the opinion that he's doing the right things, for the right reasons. He still thinks the people that should have his back, do have his back and that although perhaps not an admirable duty to pursue what was inadvertently discovered, it is still his duty to pursue it nonetheless.

As far as sheer corruption goes, this one is easily the bigger of the two because this one involves the local courts, the county public defender's office and perhaps other officials, maybe even the county prosecutor to some degree. The case was prematurely halted for reasons that are not clear at this time, so it's difficult to determine how far this went.

If that weren't bad enough, there appears to be a nexus to the murder of 4 Lakewood PD police officers in 2009, where the killer, Maurice Clemmons, not widely reported, was on electronic home monitoring, but had defeated the system 4 days prior to the brutal murders that left the 4 police officers dead. This was the very flaw Murphy discovered in 2007, which was made, by every indication thus far, to simply disappear.

In the fallout of this major discovery, Murphy
was being directed to delete crucial county emails, to hand over case files and other records that just happen to prove Murphy's involvement in this investigation, his investigation in fact, as well as FBI involvement in latter stages where a Grand Jury heard evidence related to the findings.

The fact that a Grand Jury was empaneled on the matter by Seattle Assistant US Attorney (AUSA) Carl Blackstone, would seem to corroborate Murphy's account that the findings amounted to probable cause for the issuance of a subpoena for key electronic records from the only electronic monitoring technology provider in the country, proving the alleged claims and Murphy's findings. This would be the federal equivalent of a search warrant.

How could any of this have occurred if "it didn't happen" as county insiders have alleged Bill Elfo has been telling people and making known amongst their inner circles?

It's a complicated case though, but Murphy took the time to put together a web based PowerPoint slide show describing in detail, with names redacted, describing what electronic home monitoring is, how it works and most significantly how electronic home monitoring was being circumvented by private party monitoring subscribers, apparently in collusion with the county public defenders office, the courts and possibly the prosecutors office as well.

This case is a very far reaching and of sufficient complexity that it's difficult on one pass to grasp the significance of what he's reported here.

Give this one some careful thought though. There are 3,141 counties in the United States, each with an electronic home monitoring program presumably. What if there was a known loophole that allowed people to be accounted for, but only on paper and only officially through court records and such, but in a physical sense and unofficially, totally off-lead and completely unaccountable?

That's what happened in the case of Maurice Clemmons.

That's also what happened in the more recent
Colorado case of murder suspect Evan Ebel, who slipped his electronic monitoring ankle bracelet 5 days before officials noticed.

How many more are there?


WC...U Follow-Up: WCSO Lawsuit

The Salient Points About The Hard Drive

OK. Here are the facts and just the facts about the Sheriff's allegations against Paul Murphy and the basis for firing him.

The Sheriff claims that Murphy has a county hard drive, but the Sheriff can't actually prove that there's a hard drive missing.

There is no evidence that the county is missing a hard drive. Even if there were a hard drive missing, what links that hard drive to Murphy? The answer: Nothing. The computer seized from Murphy had a hard drive in it, did it not?

1. Murphy was an ardent and vocal opponent against the Sheriff's re-election.

2. On December 15th, 2011, after the Sheriff won re-election, he asked Murphy to resign. Murphy politely declined.

3. On February 10th, 2012, Murphy's supervisors seized Murphy's computer with no explanation given.

4. An investigation was opened against Murphy based on Murphy's own comments, made in jest about everyone knowing that he had cloned his computer. Do you get the significance of that? They seized his computer with no evidence of any wrongdoing on his part.

5. The center of the investigation was an interview of Murphy by Chief Inspector Cooley. If you've read the previous posts, you know that there is bad blood between Murphy and Cooley. Murphy, the deputies guild and even Steve Cooley requested that someone else conduct the interview. The Sheriff refused the requests.

6. It was a hostile interview and hostility was displayed by both parties. It involved technical terms about computers, terms that were freely interchanged with one another. Confusion was preeminent, so Murphy wrote a memo afterwards elaborating on some of his answers to remove the confusion and in one instance changing an answer when he decided that he misunderstood the question.

7. In trying to be as forthcoming and truthful as possible, Murphy cooked his own goose. The change and clarifications allowed the Sheriff to say that Murphy had lied during the interview and proceeded to fire him. He then got the county prosecutor on board and had Murphy Brady'ed.

Except, Brady letters are only supposed to be used when a deputy has lied, under sworn testimony in a courtroom. So how did one hostile interview conducted in the sheriff's office equate with sworn testimony in a courtroom?

In the end, it's proof, proof, proof. The county doesn't have records of which hard drives are in what computers.

Second, because the county computers are migrated, every keystroke can and is monitored by the county. If Murphy had done something illegal or against policy with his computer, the county would have evidence of his wrongdoing. They don't, because he didn't.

The county would like Murphy to give them a hard drive that he doesn't have, that they don't know the serial number for, a hard drive they can't even show was ever in Murphy's possession. Yet he needs to hand it over?

All I can say is: "Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot."

~The above commentary was submitted via email, from someone close to the case who wishes to remain unidentified.

It is a significant point to consider that the county has claimed there to be a "missing hard drive," but has yet to introduce a single piece of evidence to indicate that a hard drive is actually missing, let alone in Murphy's possession.

Just exactly how does one go about proving the non-possession of a non-existent thing anyway? That seems entirely unreasonable on the part of the county, if you ask me. That sounds more like a burden-of-proof shifting game, where Murphy was expected to make up for a very poorly done investigation.

Not only that, but I've yet to see a single shred of evidence to show that Murphy used his computer improperly or that there is any other evidence of wrongdoing on it when it was forensically examined by Bellingham Police Department. Nothing at all. Everything I've read shows that Murphy was very organized and diligent researcher.

If everything county data systems related is tracked, which I'm sure it is, and everything is secured and encrypted, which I'm sure it is, then what exactly did Murphy do that amounts to a compromise of any county data system? Certainly if there was any evidence of that, we'd have heard all about it? Surely it would be in the investigative file? It appears to me that there just isn't any evidence of any sort of improper usage or compromise at all.

Also noteworthy is that from the reading of some of the investigation documents, the county seems focused on the period of time pre-migration, around late 2009, early 2010. That's nearly two years before they descended on Murphy in February 2012, which is also not so oddly right after the Whatcom County Sheriff's election ended and Elfo requested Murphy's resignation.

It doesn't look to me that there was any real concerns about Murphy's computer usage at all. That wasn't the true objective here.


Update: There's also evidence that Murphy broke a key lead in the Mandy Stavik case, a cold unsolved homicide from 1989 that took place in the Acme Valley area of Whatcom County, Washington. Murphy is reported to have been trying to get the WCSO detectives and others to act of some of this information, to no avail.

Then the WCSO seizes his computer with no real evidence of any wrongdoing? Something stinks to high heaven about that, but I'm not going to speculate any further until I've done some more homework on this aspect.



WC...U Follow-Up: WCSO Lawsuit
Paul Murphy vs Whatcom County and Bill Elfo, et al

As mentioned in previous reporting, as of April 24th, 2013, this case has now been formally filed in the Washington Western District Federal Court (Seattle) and subpoena's are in the process of being issued.

Stay tuned, more to follow.


WC...U Follow-Up: WCSO Lawsuit

Okay, So What Is The Genesis Of This Dispute?

Everything has a beginning point. You might have to do some sifting and some digging, but things like this don't just spring up overnight. So where does this dispute between Paul Murphy and Bill Elfo begin?

Is this a simple matter of a deputy that decided to go rogue and vote for a fellow deputy that ran against his boss? Actually there were two deputies, Steve Harris and Bob Taylor, that ran against their boss, Bill Elfo, in the 2011 Whatcom County Sheriff election, but Murphy primarily supported Harris.

It's significant that two Whatcom County deputies ran against Elfo, but we'll come back to that later. Right now, we're delving into why Paul Murphy, a deputy sheriff that admired and respected his new boss when Elfo came to the helm of the WCSO in 2003, to complete Sheriff Dale Brandland's term, when Brandland was elected to the state legislature.

Various accounts indicate that Murphy did well under Elfo's direction and was even selected in late 2005 to become a detective, "Patrol Investigator" in WCSO lingo, a desire he had since his days at the police academy he graduated from in 2001. Murphy and Elfo were friendly, jocular at times and often exchanged cordial remarks in the hallways of the WCSO.

So what happened?

Steve Cooley is what happened.

Steve Cooley was a fellow patrol deputy, slightly senior to Murphy, who was promoted to the rank of Sergeant around the time Murphy was selected to become a new WCSO detective. It's not that there was animosity or anything there between them, there wasn't. It wasn't good or bad. They were just two guys in different circles. Two guys, each doing their jobs and not often interacting with each other.

That was until around May-June of 2006. Murphy, whose daughter and a childhood friend of hers, were both Explorer cadets back when the WCSO had an Explorer program. Rachelle and Kristin. Rachelle is Murphy's daughter and Kristin is her childhood friend. For those that don't know, a police explorer is a young sort of cadet, kind of like a scout, unarmed and uncommissioned, who rides along with seasoned police officers and get to see the daily police world from the front seat of a police cruiser.

Unbeknownst to Murphy, Kristin had become romantically involved with Cooley sometime during the year or two previous and he found out about it after being told by both Rachelle and Kristin, what amounted to some sort of domestic dispute between Cooley and Kristin. Now near in mind, Murphy knows that Cooley is a married man, has kids of his own, and presented himself generally as a squared away individual.

Neither Kristin's father nor mother were in the picture from the time Rachelle and Kristin met, which Murphy was aware of. The alarm bells start going off for Rachelle after a telephone conversation with Kristin in which she described being taken out to dinner by Cooley, then being brought back to his apartment. Rachelle told her dad that Kristin, then 19, blacked out after being given an alcoholic beverage by Cooley.

When she woke up some time later, feeling uneasy and wanted to go home, Cooley, evidently, had a problem with that and followed her home in his vehicle while she walked, in a way that caused Kristin further alarm. Kristin called her friend Rachelle during this event and it was described as Kristin sounding "freaked out." Now this occurred the night before Kristin, a brand new US Air Forces Security recruit, was due to return to her new duty station, Misawa AFB, Japan.

Rachelle didn't know what to do about it, so she told her dad. Murphy, realizing that something was very wrong with the whole thing, asked for Kristin to contact him to talk about it, knowing full well that she had no one else to confide her troubles to, was panicked and nearly distraught about it all. Kristin did and after making sure he knew exactly what happened, realized that it was something that would need to be reported to Bill Elfo via the WCSO administration.

After speaking confidentially with a couple of co-workers about it, then to the WCSO Undersheriff, Carey James at the time, James, Elfo's #1 man, directed Murphy to document what he could recall about all of it and submit it in memorandum form to the chain of command for review.

Murphy wrote out the memo and gave it to James, who told Murphy it was going to be investigated. Murphy heard whispers after these events, but didn't hear anything formal about it again until much later.

Murphy, from his facebook page, writes the following:
"The memo was submitted in 2006, which began an official WCSO internal investigation into Cooley's misconduct and a series of cover-ups between WCSO, Lynden Police Department and the Whatcom County Prosecutor.
The purpose of which was to hide the investigation from public scrutiny.

Cooley was never charged with any crime, but was minimally found to have furnished alcohol to a minor, but only after he admitted it. Nothing was ever done about the rest.

Cooley was then promoted to Lieutenant of Patrol shortly thereafter, then to Chief Inspector, by Bill Elfo both times, overseeing and investigating the conduct of all other deputies.

This is where my problems with Sheriff Bill Elfo began.

Note: Microsoft Word automatically updates the date field whenever a document is opened. The original is dated June 9th, 2006 and I still have it."
The actual internal WCSO memorandum Murphy submitted:

WCSO MEMO - Sgt. Steve Cooley by Paul Murphy




WC...U Follow-Up: WCSO Lawsuit

As mentioned in the previous report, in the
ongoing investigation into this controversy, a number of things have been identified as pointing to the retaliatory mindset, if not also a personal vendetta, by Bill Elfo against former WCSO deputy Paul Murphy.

I had planned to do a nice lengthy investigative report explaining the back-story as it relates to this situation, but decided, at least for now, that I'm just going to provide links to what appears to be additional information posted by Murphy. The information has been made public, apparently in an effort by Murphy to counter the "official story" coming from Elfo and the WCSO. From what I heard Elfo say about him on KGMI last week, that probably isn't such a bad idea.

Briefly, there are two significant events that Murphy was involved with in 2006 and 2007, while assigned to the WCSO detective unit, that seem to lay the basic groundwork which determined his future troubles by putting him on a collision course with Elfo and company. Should it have been that way? No, not from what I've found in my research on it, but that does appear to be what happened.

Elfo was sending a clear message to anyone else in the WCSO: You'd be wise not to oppose me and whatever you do, DO NOT cross me.

It appears to me that Murphy acted properly, and in good faith, in both instances, but Elfo evidently decided otherwise and began to put the screws to Murphy. That's just my opinion, but you'll need to read and decide for yourself if Murphy should have been made a target this way, or perhaps worse, for doing his job and by all indications I can find, doing it rather well.

The 1st: Murphy's reporting of Steve Cooley's misconduct.

This is a rather significant aspect in that Cooley is later promoted to the lieutenant of patrol, where Murphy is not-so-coincidentally reassigned. Then he's quickly promoted again to the position of chief henchman in charge of investigating Murphy's alleged acts of misconduct. I think you'll find it quite disturbing that Elfo promoted this man, who should have been fired in my opinion, then used this man to fire Murphy, who probably should have been rewarded in some way and promoted.

Paul Murphy vs Bill Elfo and Whatcom County (Click for Scribd files.)

The 2nd: The discovery of what looks to be a rather serious case of, minimally, malfeasance by Whatcom County, if not outright corruption, in the area of electronic home monitoring.

Built in alibi's? I'm just shaking my head at this one. If true, it's really quite shocking. 

Whatcom County Electronic Home Monitoring Investigation (Click for SlideShare file)

I'm very curious as to the "internal investigations" Murphy refers to. Maybe we'll see those soon too.



Counterpoint: Guest Editorial

Inside information via one who had eyes and ears to things discovered by disclosure and depositions. Sheriff Elfo’s recent comments on KGMI were so very lawyerly. He can weasel with the best of them. Here are some things to counter his statements.

FACT: Paul Murphy did try other avenues to correct the injustice done to him. Legally he could only go through the sheriff’s guild arbitration or civil service commission, not both. He worked with the guild before he was fired. After being fired he chose the civil service route and the grievance was filed with them back in Sept. of 2012. The board took no action. They made not one response. It turns out that 2 of the 3 posts were vacant and weren’t filled until February of this year. Who are these two new board members? One was a manager for Sheriff Elfo’s re-election campaign and the other is a member of the Sheriff’s Jail Advisory board. I’m sure they could have rendered a totally fair, unbiased review of what happened.

FACT: On December 15, 2011 Sheriff Elfo called Murphy into his office for a meeting. It was the end of Murphy’s graveyard shift, so he thought that maybe Sheriff Elfo was going to be conciliatory about things. That couldn’t have been farther from the case. Sheriff Elfo told Murphy that he’d heard that Murphy was going to resign if Elfo won re-election. The Sheriff then made a big production of finding his re-election certificate and straight armed it in front of Murphy’s face and said “as you can see, I won.” Murphy offered his congratulations saying something along the lines of: “the people have spoken.” Murphy then refused to resign saying that the previous statements were spoken in frustration and were in fact part of private conversations. The Sheriff lectured Murphy for a few minutes telling him that Murphy would lose all credibility if he didn’t make good on his threatened resignation. Murphy refused.

FACT: Less than two months after that morning meeting, Paul Murphy was once again the subject of an internal investigation. This investigation was launched based on Murphy’s own words, words spoken in jest about his computer, while at a training class. He joked about cloning the hard drive. Other people at this same class made jokes, even vulgar jokes. The class instructor made a derogatory, ugly racial “joke” at this class, when Paul let it be known that that wasn’t OK, the instructor proceeded to say, “You’re lucky you weren’t in the last training class.”

FACT: The Sheriff stated that there’s a missing hard drive involved. There is not a missing hard drive. One thing that the depositions verified is that the county’s IT department is a “hot mess.” By the way, did you know that all the reports that the deputies write, you know, stuff that could be about you, all of that can be accessed by personnel within the IT department, people who haven’t taken an oath of office like deputies have. As an aside, one of the Sheriff’s employees in charge of gathering and processing confidential information on gangs is also an individual that hasn’t taken an oath of office either.

FACT: One of the complaints against Sheriff Elfo that caused two of his own deputies to run against him, is that he doesn’t manage the department’s money well. He doesn’t set internal budgets and he plays favorites. Deputies don’t cross him without endangering their specialties i.e. canine, s.w.a.t., detective…..Since his re-election, Paul, his most vocal critic was fired and his opponents were removed from their specialty positions. In a time of budget restraints, Sheriff Elfo, took Murphy, an excellent deputy and put him on paid suspension from the beginning of March until the 22nd of June when he was fired.

Murphy is understandably upset and is filing a tort claim against the county. If the county chooses not to settle, it’s going to federal court and the price tag will go up accordingly. Citizens of Whatcom County, is this how you want your tax dollars spent? All this money wasted to satisfy the venality of a petty tyrant?

(Name withheld by request)


WCSO Lawsuit Update
It appears that there is more to this case than meets the eye

In the previous update, it was reported that former WCSO deputy sheriff Paul Murphy, was fired by Sheriff Bill Elfo, in June of 2012. The dismissal is contested, with each side having publicly made statements justifying their positions and defending their actions.

Something just doesn't smell right about this.

People who have been rightfully fired generally don't make a big fuss about it and go about their lives in some other way. Employers who have good cause to let an employee go don't generally need to pile on and make a guy out to sound like the second coming of Genghis Khan either. Something just isn't right about this.

According to several sources providing information related to this case, there is quite a back-story as it relates to this termination. WC...U is currently working on verifying information that has been provided and will report further when that process has been completed.

For now though, it appears that some clearly shady motives have emerged for Elfo to have wanted Murphy removed from employment at the WCSO and there does also appear to be substantial evidence to indicate that the firing was indeed retaliatory, as well as political, if not a personal vendetta by Elfo.

I'm looking at what appears to be about a 5 year history from where this thing begins, with Murphy ultimately being hounded into submission, then terminated, when the Elfo wolf-pack finally achieve their goals, by hook and by crook. That isn't necessary for a truly bad employee.

Further information will be provided when I've had time to digest the information and can figure the best way to present it. I'll say this though, if even half of this is true, Murphy may be a fool for trying to "fight city hall," but he has also taken quite a noble stand against a corrupt bunch, including Sheriff Bill Elfo and County Prosecutor David McEachran.

Let's just see where these bread crumbs lead.

As a reminder, tips and submissions can be sent to: editor@whatcomuncovered.com
All requests for anonymity will be honored.




Fired WCSO Deputy Sheriff To File Suit Against Sheriff Bill Elfo

On the 6th of June, 2012, former Whatcom County Deputy Sheriff Paul Murphy was dismissed from the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office after another lengthy internal investigation. The "internal" as they are known, alleges that Murphy violated a number of WCSO policies and that he modified a county owned computer against policy.

Sheriff Bill Elfo, in a recent KGMI interview, stated that Murphy had compromised his credibility during the internal investigation by making conflicting and unpersuasive statements to the investigator. Elfo further alleged that Murphy was unable and implied perhaps unwilling, to account for a "missing hard drive," speculating that Murphy may have compromised county data systems in some undefined and unexplained way.

Elfo went on to state that Murphy had made statements containing vulgar language to superior officers and that during the suspension process, alleging that he had possibly become a danger to other deputies and the citizens of Whatcom County by refusing to surrender a county owned duty firearm.

Elfo made these statements on the public airwaves through a daily AM 790 KGMI radio broadcast program called "PM Bellingham," hosted by Dillon Honcoop.

KGMI Report: Elfo

KGMI Report: Murphy

In another portion of the same program, attorney for Paul Murphy, Bob Butler of Robert Butler Law Offices in Bellingham, stated that Sheriff Elfo politically retaliated against former WCSO Deputy Murphy following the recent 2011 Whatcom County Sheriff election where Murphy supported Elfo's opponent in that election.

Butler went on to state that there was some controversy in Murphy allegedly modifying a county computer, but that the resultant internal investigation was pretextual and politically motivated against Murphy for his support of Elfo's opponent in the recent election.

Butler cited documents and emails that had been obtained through discovery, indicating Elfo had directed senior staff members and other supervisors, using county computers and other county resources, to monitor the facebook social media postings of Murphy and others as further evidence of Elfo's motivations to terminate Murphy's employment through whatever means could be found to do so.

Elfo flatly denies these allegations, stating that there was no political motivation whatsoever in his decision to terminate Murphy's employment, or to infringe on any deputy's rights as a citizen, again citing dangers to the public and Murphy's credibility as the primary reasons for his decision to terminate.

Butler told Honcoop that a tort claim has been filed with Whatcom County and that Murphy is seeking reinstatement to his former position and damages resulting from the loss of his job. Butler stated that if Whatcom County doesn't negotiate, a federal lawsuit will be filed in the Western District Court of Seattle for Wrongful Termination, Violation of 1st and 14th Amendment rights, as well as Due Process violations.

Elfo indicated that he was aware of Murphy's intentions, but that he was not aware of the county filings and has not been served thus far with any sort of legal actions. He stated that if such documents are served, he will read them closely.

WC...U has confirmed that a filing did take place with the Whatcom County Council on February 6th of this year. It's not clear why Elfo would be unaware of this fact at this time.

The Whatcom County Tort Claim, with anticipated federal filing attached.
132.2 KB

Full KGMI podcast: 02-18-13 PM Bellingham

Bob Butler starts at: 4:36
Bill Elfo starts at: 40:30

This story is developing. Additional information will be added as updates are available.



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