SEATTLE – A man who joined two tech workers in running a hash oil operation that exploded in 2013, destroying a Bellevue apartment building and leading to the death of a former mayor, was sentenced to nine years in prison Monday.
Prosecutors say butane gas used to make the hash oil exploded in the Hampton Greens Apartments on Nov. 5, 2013. Several people were injured trying to escape the fire.
One of them was Nan Campbell, an 87-year-old former Bellevue councilwoman and the city's first female mayor. She was sleeping in another unit when the explosion happened.
"It was terrifying to see that and think about what our mother must have been going through trying to escape from the building and what the other people had to go through trying to get out," said daughter Patty Campbell.
Nan Campbell tripped as she escaped the flames, broke her pelvis and died of complications from the injuries two weeks later.
Two more residents were left with broken bones after they had to jump from their apartments. One of them told the court in a letter that she is still in pain and will never be able to run or play soccer again.
On Monday David Richard Schultz II, 33, the man responsible for causing all of that human misery, appealed for mercy in Federal Court.
Schultz admits he'd been teaching two men to extract hash oil from marijuana in the apartment that blew up. He said he regrets what happened but was desperate to support his twin sons.
"I'm sure he's sorry, it doesn't bring back our mother," said Patty Campbell.
Nor does it explain why Schultz continued his illegal enterprise in California before being caught.
"You have burns, you're hurt, you've blown up and apartment and then you're going to California and doing the same thing. It's like he didn't learn," said Ann Campbell Spangler, Nan Campbell's other daughter.
U.S. District Judge James Robart hopes Schultz will learn during nine years in federal lock-up because Nan Campbell couldn't beat her final opponent.
"There were too many internal injuries… just too much for an 87-year-old to take," said Patty Campbell.
Federal prosecutors and Judge Robart used the sentencing of Schultz as an opportunity to remind people that Washington state's marijuana legalization does not permit all marijuana-related activities.
"We need to educate the public that the legalization of marijuana in the state of Washington is not unlimited and it does not include the manufacturing of homemade hash oil," said Robart.
Prosecutors say they have charged a dozen people with illegally manufacturing butane hash oil in the past year. They compare hash oil operations to meth labs.
"Among other things, they involve the unauthorized use of dangerous solvents, and especially when located in homes and apartment buildings, pose a serious risk of death and property damage as so disastrously happened in this case," said Annette Hayes, U.S. Attorney.
Prosecutors say Daniel James Strycharske, 29, and Jesse D. Kaplan, 32, rented the apartment and allowed Schultz to set up the equipment with the goal of selling the hash oil. They will be sentenced next month.
All three men involved were also injured in the explosion.