Sunday, June 22, 2008

Walser Sentenced to Year in Jail

According to his plea agreement, former Sultan Police Chief Fred Walser was sentenced to one year in jail, a year of probation, a $500 fine, and an additional $20K in restitution to the City of Sultan.

There is a misperception out there that he was only sentenced to community service. All but 30 days of the one-year jail sentence were suspended, and the 30 remaining days were converted to 8-hour-per day community service, for a total of 240 hours.

If Walser's actual sentence had not been suspended, it would have kept him in jail through the entire campaign and next legislative session. It is unknown whether any Washington state legislator has ever spent an entire session in jail. It is also unknown whether he will complete his community service before the next session, although even if he does, he will still be under probation for a full year, which includes all of next year's legislative session, which means he would need permission from probation to move to Olympia.

Presumably, the court will not allow him to use the Senate, or campaigning for the Senate, as community service. Even if elected, he will have to spend the full 240 hours -- six full-time five-day work weeks -- doing community service, which will eat into his time for campaigning for, preparing for, or serving in office.

The $20K in restitution must be paid by October 23, 2008, less than two weeks before Election Day, when he hopes to be elected to the State Senate for the 39th District. It is, of course, illegal for him to use his campaign funds for paying off the restitution. One way or another, however, that fundraising will also eat into time he should be spending on campaigning and preparing for office.

No comments: