This afternoon, King County prosecutors dropped all gambling charges against artist DK Pan.
He was the last defendant in The Long Con—a byzantine story about how the SPD and the FBI conducted a years-long, invasive investigation of a bunch of artists, activists, and general weirdos-about-town, looking for domestic terrorists. (They were also sniffing around city council members, journalists, and others.)
They couldn't find any so they coaxed one defendant (Richard Wilson) into a major drug deal he barely knew anything about and slapped several others (including Pan) with obscure, rarely enforced gambling charges. The whole messy, years-long saga is here.
All the other defendants quietly pleaded to relatively small penalties—Wilson got 40 months, by far the harshest sentence in the case—but Pan surprised everyone by digging in his heels and insisting on a trial. The prosecutor's office has decided it's not worth it.
Given the intricacies of the investigation and its fallout, the motion to dismiss is short—almost anticlimactically so. It's just two double-spaced pages with the nut in the second paragraph:
The State asks the court to dismiss the case against DK Pan based upon newly discovered evidence. After filing this case, the State learned that Pan's involvement is more minimal than first thought and more similar to individuals who were not changed as part of the gambling enterprise.
Congratulations, DK Pan. And thanks to senior prosecuting attorney Andrew Hamilton for sensibly dismissing charges that stemmed from a senseless investigation.
(And stay tuned for upcoming news about a big-ass New Year's Eve party at Washington Hall to celebrate and help defray Pan's legal expenses.)
A statement from Pan's lawyer, David Whedbee, is after the jump.
We are obviously very pleased that the King County Prosecutor’s Office decided to dismiss the remaining two counts of professional gambling against DK Pan. As is no surprise, we believe the rarely used gambling statute under which DK was charged is a relic with little valid application in 2011 where gambling of all varieties is everywhere you look, tolerated and even encouraged, take for example the State Lottery. A broad statute such as RCW 9.46.220 that conceivably criminalizes all kinds of innocuous activity just invites abuse and caprice, even where people are well-meaning.
From all appearances, and as discussed in The Stranger article earlier this year, “Operation Big Slick” undertaken by the Seattle Police Department’s Vice Unit was at bottom a misguided effort to identify or even contrive “eco-terrorists” among Seattle artists and activists, at great public expense.
From that perspective, the King County Prosecutor’s Office decision to dismiss all charges against DK is quite laudable. Since the filing of charges, prosecutors kept the channels of communications open with us, even after the case was set for trial. I don’t think that’s usually the case. The openness allowed us the time to sift through the huge volume of information and to reiterate our position at different junctures why these charges should be dismissed as we examined the evidence, without having to waste undue judicial resources. And we’re glad prosecutors Mindy Young, Andy Hamilton and Jennifer Atchison worked with us and did the right thing.
By the same token, I remain very impressed with DK, and his backers in the community, for being ready to go through a trial despite the personal risk.