News and Press Releases

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

March 21, 2008

PAUL CHRISTOPHER WATKINS, 50, of Everett, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 15 months in prison, 2 years of supervised release, and $75,046 in restitution for Theft From a Federally Funded Local Agency. WATKINS has been terminated from his position of Deputy Chief with the Lynnwood Police Department. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones said WATKINS “used his position to take advantage and abuse the system for his own personal benefit.”

WATKINS pleaded guilty November 16, 2007. In his 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 argued that WATKINS stole $61,000 on 54 separate occasions over 4 years.

At sentencing Assistant United States Attorney Carl Blackstone told the court that “Police officers are given awesome powers... and with that power comes responsibility.” Mr. Blackstone noted that WATKINS “didn’t just dip into the till a couple times for emergencies... he did it over and over again.... And when confronted about the thefts, he lied about it.” Mr. Blackstone pointed out that some of the money WATKINS stole could have been used by the Lynnwood Police Department for important equipment to help other officers, such as bulletproof vests.

Judge Jones said he was troubled that WATKINS “never came to the conclusion on his own that his conduct was wrong. When he was caught he lied again and again.”

Judge Jones ordered that WATKINS voluntarily surrender to the Bureau of Prisons at a facility they designate. Such designations usually take six to eight weeks.

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

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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