Sheriff's deputy accused of trading police information for sex



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Posted on June 26, 2013 at 6:08 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 26 at 6:20 PM

A Snohomish County deputy and the owner of multiple espresso stands could soon face charges for promoting prostitution.

Sgt. Darrell O'Neill was due in court Wednesday afternoon, but bailed out of jail and avoided that court appearance. He is accused of helping an alleged prostitution ring, by trading police information for sex.

When deputies raided seven espresso stands in Everett, Edmonds, and Kent Tuesday, they also arrested the owner of the stands, Carmela Panico of Snohomish, and Sgt. O'Neill, a 30-year veteran of the force.

According to court documents, baristas who were brought in for questioning told detectives there was an "'unwritten rule' regarding how they should treat O'Neill because of the fact that he provided ...Information about police activity."

"His role was to provide information about law enforcement officers who were working and to warn baristas about investigations," court documents said.

Detectives also discovered "O'Neill has used his in-car computer to run license plates of vehicles at the stands..." and that there were "numerous calls between O'Neill's work phone and Panico's cell phone... often multiple calls per day."

One barista told police "that O'Neill had engaged in sexual activity...Inside the coffee stands while he was in police uniform."

Detectives said surveillance video footage backs up her claim,  showing O'Neill in "full uniform and driving his marked patrol car," "hugging and kissing several of the baristas"

Detectives wrote "not once have we witnessed O'Neill purchasing coffee at the stands or giving baristas any money."

The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office says they learned of the allegations against him in March, and immediately referred the case to an outside agency to investigate to avoid any conflict of interest.

O'Neill was placed on paid administrative leave, pending a criminal and internal investigation.