News and Press Releases

Crime Strikes at the Heart of the Criminal Justice System

September 24, 2010

DEVAUGHN DORSEY, 36, of Seattle, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 48 years in prison for witness tampering, discharging a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, and multiple counts related to trafficking of stolen cars. DORSEY was convicted at trial in June 2010, for the May 2008, shooting of a woman and her son through the window of their basement apartment. At the time of the attack, the West Seattle woman was scheduled to testify before a federal grand jury about DORSEY’s car trafficking scheme. At the sentencing hearing Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said it was the longest sentence he had handed down as a federal judge. Chief Judge Lasnik told DORSEY, “Your motive in this case was to completely subvert justice.... It was a cowardly and violent act. The myth of Devaughn Dorsey comes to an end today. You will come out (of prison) an old man who is no longer a danger to the community.”

“When Devaughn Dorsey attacked a grand jury witness, he attacked our system of justice,” said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan. “For decades his repeated criminal conduct has damaged our community. There is no question Mr. Dorsey has earned every day of the 48 year sentence. After 58 previous convictions, and 99 arrests, the only way to protect the community from this unrepentant criminal was to take him off the streets for as long as possible.”

Prior to the June trial on the witness tampering and firearm charges, DORSEY pleaded guilty to a multi-count indictment charging him in a car theft and chop shop scheme. Under the terms of that plea agreement, DORSEY faced 13 years in prison. The conviction at trial added at least another ten years to the sentence. After prosecutors reviewed DORSEY’s extensive criminal history they decided to ask for the life sentence.

Writing to the court that DORSEY had “perhaps the most egregious criminal history ever seen in this district,” Assistant United States Attorney Jill Otake noted that DORSEY “has spent the last twenty years wreaking havoc in Seattle. From simple property crimes, to eluding the police, to complex property crimes, to domestic violence, and shootings, Defendant has executed a two-decade-long crime spree. The societal costs he has left in his wake are not fathomable.”

According to records filed in the case and testimony at trial, DORSEY lead a conspiracy that stole 50 high end cars worth nearly $1 million from western Washington dealerships. The conspirators changed the vehicle identification numbers to ones stolen from junk yards. Then DORSEY and his co-horts registered the cars in the names of various people -- often single mothers -- to establish a new “clean” title. DORSEY and his co-schemers then sold the cars as far away as southern California for profit. In the spring of 2008, law enforcement was zeroing in on DORSEY for various thefts of the high end cars. Some of the women who had allowed DORSEY to register the cars in their names were being summoned to the federal grand jury to testify.

Two nights before a West Seattle woman was to testify, she was shot through the basement window of her apartment as she stood at the kitchen sink. In all nine shots were fired into the apartment hitting not only the witness, but her 10-year-old son as well. Both recovered from their injuries. Descriptions of the person seen running from the apartment windows resembled DORSEY. A sweatshirt similar to one worn by the shooter was later recovered in DORSEY’s vehicle. Cell phone records confirmed that DORSEY was in a relatively small area around the apartment in the minutes before the shooting. Following the shooting, DORSEY made unsolicited calls to police detectives he knew, attempting to establish an alibi that he was miles away on Capitol Hill at the time of the shooting. However, cell phone records revealed that he was in the vicinity of the West Seattle Bridge when the calls were placed. The bridge was DORSEY’s route away from the shooting scene.

DORSEY had just been released from federal prison in late 2007 for a similar car theft scheme.

The case was investigated by the Washington State Patrol, Seattle Police Department, Kent Police Department and the FBI. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jill Otake and Marc Perez.

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

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