A federal grand jury has filed additional criminal charges against the former King County drainage district commissioner accused of stealing nearly a half-million dollars from Enumclaw-area taxpayers.
Allan “Benny” Thomas and his wife JoAnn are now charged with conspiracy, wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity fraud, in addition to the mail fraud count that federal prosecutors filed against them last year.
Between 2012 and 2019, the couple “…defrauded DD5 (Drainage District No. 5) and the taxpayers residing in DD5 of at least $468,165…,” according to the indictment unsealed in US District Court in Seattle.
The alleged crimes were first exposed by the KING 5 Investigators in April 2019. At that time, Thomas denied on camera that he had diverted hundreds of thousands of tax dollars intended to maintain 18 miles of drainage trenches that form DD5 to his own personal use.
“There’s been some complaints, but I guarantee you the work has been done,” Thomas said in the April news report.
Both Thomas and his wife have pleaded not guilty to the previous charge of mail fraud.
The new indictment chronicles how the Thomas’ alleged spending of taxpayer money went unchecked for years.
As the elected commissioner of DD5, he would send King County government “warrants” for payment for services that he would certify were conducted on behalf of DD5. The indictment says he and his wife made up a shell company “AC Services” to make it look like the payments were going to a legitimate contractor.
The Thomas’ are charged with aggravated identity theft for signing the signature of “K.O.” on several documents. The indictment does not name K.O., but it says that Thomas “recruited” his neighbor to be a fellow drainage district commissioner and then forged his signature on records.
Other records obtained by KING 5 show that K.O. is Ken Olson, a farm owner who served as DD5 commissioner.
When reached by phone Friday, Olson said, “Sorry about that. I just don’t have any comment.”
The indictment indicates Olson did not know his signature was being used in such a manner.
The indictment says Thomas became aware of a "State investigation of their actions,” but that they still did not halt their crimes.
Instead, they allegedly hired another contractor, Darrell Winston of City Biz, to accept payments from DD5 for maintenance work supposedly completed on the district trenches.
In reality, the FBI says Winston paid nearly $50,000 back to Thomas so that the scheme to cheat taxpayers could continue.
Winston is also charged in federal court and, according to documents, has planned to plead guilty in the case.
The Thomas’ are scheduled for trial in November, but that could be delayed because of the new charges.