News and Press Releases

Deputy Chief Pocketed Thousands of Dollars Instead of Returning it to Rightful Owners

November 16, 2007

PAUL CHRISTOPHER WATKINS, 50, of Everett, Washington pleaded guilty this morning in U.S. District Court in Seattle to Theft From a Federally Funded Local Agency. WATKINS is on leave from his position of Deputy Chief with the Lynnwood Police Department. When sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones on February 22, 2008 at 9:30 a.m., WATKINS faces up to ten years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release.

According to the plea agreement, WATKINS admits that while serving as the Commander of Investigations Division from July of 2001, to March of 2004, he stole funds that should have been seized from individuals during the course of criminal investigations. That money was either forfeited to the City of Lynnwood or should have been returned to various owners. WATKINS falsely represented that he was returning the money to the owners when, in fact, he kept it for his own benefit. In each year 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005, WATKINS kept more than $5,000 of seized funds that belonged to other people. At sentencing prosecutors plan to argue that WATKINS stole between $70,000 and $120,000.

At sentencing the government will also argue that WATKINS deserves a more lengthy sentencing guidelines range because of obstruction of justice. Prosecutors are concerned that WATKINS destroyed many records related to the thefts just hours before a search warrant was served in the case.

The case is being investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Carl Blackstone.

Copies of the charging information and plea agreement is available on the PACER system, or can be obtained by contacting Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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