ISLAND COUNTY PROSECUTING ATTORNEY

GREGORY M. BANKS
David L. Jamieson, Jr., Chief Civil Deputy Deputy Prosecutors Eric M. Ohme Colleen S. Kenimond Daniel B. Mitchell David E. Carman Erin M. Lewis Robert S. McKay

Michele M. Graaff, Office Administrator

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ISLAND COUNTY PROSECUTOR CHARGES MAYOR OF LANGLEY, WASHINGTON WITH ALTERING OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS

FROM: CONTACT: DATE:

Gregory Banks, Island County Prosecuting Attorney Michele Graaff, Office Administrator 360-240-5506 / m.graaff@co.island.wa.us December 13, 2012

Today I charged Langley Mayor Larry Kwarsick with the crime of False Report By a Public Officer in Island County Superior Court. The charges are based on actions taken by Mr. Kwarsick when he was the Director of Community Planning for the City of Langley. Our case alleges that Mr. Kwarsick backdated an official planning department document to make it appear as if it had been issued by Mr. Kwarsick’s predecessor. The document eliminated certain permit requirements for a Kwarsick family member. Mr. Kwarsick is alleged to have created an official “Notice of Decision” for his stepdaughter’s and son-in-law’s residential construction project in February, 2011. He allegedly backdated the document to December 20, 2010. Mr. Kwarsick did not become the city’s planning director until January 3, 2011, when the city contracted with him to replace outgoing director Larry Cort. Mr. Kwarsick’s contract prohibited him from working on any projects for the city that he had previously handled as a private consultant on behalf of developers. Mr. Kwarsick’s land use consulting firm, Sound Planning Services, had been the project consultant for his stepdaughter’s home before he became the Director of Community Planning. The home had been constructed on a parcel that contained sensitive wetlands, and the city’s development regulations required special steps to protect the wetlands. A former planning staff member, Fred Evander, approved a wetland mitigation plan prepared by Mr. Kwarsick in August, 2009. The wetland plan included mitigation and restoration work to be completed over several years, and required nine annual reports be submitted to the city beginning in 2010. The backdated Notice of Decision allegedly issued by Mr. Kwarsick determined that the mitigation and monitoring work was completed after only one year. Mr. Kwarsick allegedly made a notation closing the city’s file. The Notice of Decision also eliminated a requirement that a restriction be placed on the property’s deed, further limiting future development.

ISLAND COUNTY LAW & JUSTICE CENTER 101 NE SIXTH STREET, P. O. BOX 5000, COUPEVILLE, WASHINGTON 98239
Main extension: (360) 679-7363 / from South Whidbey: 321-5111, ext. 7363 / from Camano Island: 629-4522, ext. 7363 FAX (360) 679-7393 or (360) 240-5566

KWARSICK PRESS RELEASE December 13, 2012 Page 2

The 65-year-old Mr. Kwarsick was elected Mayor of Langley in November, 2011, and took office on January 1, 2012. Questions about the project were directed to the city’s current planner, Jeff Arango, by citizen activist and blogger Skip Demuth in the spring of 2012. Mr. Arango questioned the authenticity of the Notice of Decision, and reported it to the City Council in April, 2012. The City Council President, Hal Seligson, subsequently consulted with me, and I convened a Special Inquiry Judge (SIJ) to gather evidence in a secure and confidential manner. The SIJ proceedings, and the evidence gathered therein, were unsealed this week, permitting my office to file charges. No live testimony was taken before the Special Inquiry Judge. Evidence gathered included forensic examinations of computers belonging to the City of Langley and Sound Consulting Services by Detective Ed Wallace. The crime of False Report by a Public Officer is defined in RCW 42.20.040 as follows: Every public officer who shall knowingly make any false or misleading statement in any official report or statement, under circumstances not otherwise prohibited by law, shall be guilty of a gross misdemeanor. A person convicted of the crime faces a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail, and/or a $5,000 fine. A person convicted of this offense must also forfeit public office, and is barred from holding public office in the future. Mr. Kwarsick is scheduled to be arraigned on the charge on Monday, December 17, 2012 in Island County Superior Court at 1:30 p.m. I anticipate that the case will be resolved at that hearing by a settlement agreement. I will not disclose the terms of the potential settlement until after the hearing.

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