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BREAKING – Sheriff Bamonte headed for OK Corral – gunfight imminent (Murder and corruption Spokane, WA)
Former Sheriff Bamonte of Pend Oreille County, WA just strapped on his guns again and is headed to the OK Corral. A gunfight is imminent to rid Spokane of the incestuous and insidious evil ongoing criminal enterprise/conspiracy that has so systemically infested this town for the last 100 years.
Sheriff Bamonte is a “Sheepdog” as I too am and we will not allow a robbery to occur in plain sight in our presence. We will alert the flock and defend it from predators that would seek to prey on it. If you are not aware Sheriff Bamonte is a legendary “cop’s cop.” Read the bestselling book by a NYT reporter that chronicles a murder case solved by Sheriff Bamonte, Breaking Blue:
In 1935, the Spokane police regularly extorted sex, food, and money from the reluctant hobos (many of them displaced farmers who had fled the Midwestern dust bowls), robbed dairies, and engaged in all manner of nefarious crimes, including murder. This history was suppressed until 1989, when former logger, Vietnam vet, and Spokane cop Tony Bamonte discovered a strange 1955 deathbed confession while researching a thesis on local law enforcement history. Bamonte began to probe what had every appearance of widespread police crime and a massive cover-up whose highlight was the unsolved murder of Town Marshall George Conff. The fact that many of those involved, now in their 80s and 90s, were still alive made it imperative that Bamonte unravel this mystery. The result is Breaking Blue, a white-knuckle ride through institutional corruption and cover-up that vividly documents Depression-era Spokane and an extraordinary case that few believed would ever be brought to light.
Mind you I was recently was told of this story that I have since confirmed by another retired member of SPD. Sheriff Bamonte was formerly a SPD motorcycle cop before he went onto to be the Sheriff of Pend Oreille County, WA. He was off duty working extra duty traffic control when he heard the radio call go out of a shooting/robbery at a Downtown department store. Bamonte jumped on his motorcycle and rode against traffic to the department store. He ran into the store with his gun concealed behind his leg. He ran up the down escalater to the 2nd floor where the shooting was reported to have occurred. As he ran up the escalater he met a man running down. There was a brief encounter with the man ID’ing himself as store security and said he could point out the suspect. They both then ran back down the escalator onto the main floor. The store security person pointed to the suspect as he was nearing an exit door and said, “That’s him.” The suspect was wearing a trenchcoat and upon hearing the shout turned and leveled a gun at the approaching Bamonte. Bamonte brought his gun up at hit hip and fired striking the suspect on the bridge of his glasses. The man was looking sideways at Bamonte when Bamonte’s shot struck him between the eyes. The round thus did not fully penetrate the shooter’s brain but left him permanently disabled. This suspect had just shot dead a store clerk on the 2nd floor in this aborted robbery.
Will the citizens of Spokane once and for all back Sheriff Bamonte and others to rid this evil from our midst? Or will they sit idly by as they have in the past, cowed in fear of this evil in our midst. Now is the time come to the aid of Sheriff Bamonte and take back the government that WE THE PEOPLE empower from the clutches of this evil that is sucking on the public treasury like some lowly river leech.
Ron the Cop
I have great respect and admiration for Sheriff Bamonte and Sheriff Knezovich. I should disclose I became a ardent supporter and campaigned on behalf of Sheriff Knezovich after hearing him on the Mark Fuhrman Radio Show when he was running for sheriff against Cal Walker. I continue to maintain contact with him. I still have confidence in Sheriff Knezovich and Chief Kirkpatrick. I believe that they are between a rock and a hard place. Having worked political corruption cases in the past I’m more convinced that the Sheriff and the Chief just don’t have the in place resources to root out this evil in town. And even if they did there would be conflict of interest issues. The feds are the best to handle this but unfortunately they are not very transparent, keep things very close to vest, and work in the dark. Their investigations can run many years before any results are apparent if any. Sheriff Bamonte has a differing opinion and believes at least the Savage case can be pursued at the state level. I’m on the fence and could go either way depending how engaged the feds really are on these cases. I have yet to make up my mind.
Chief Kirkpatrick referred the Savage case to the feds because the feds had just taken on a review of the RPS bond fraud with the recusal of US Attorney Jim McDevitt. The Savage case could perhaps have been handled at the state level with the assistance of the Washington State Patrol and the Washington Attorney General’s Office with the convening of a state grand jury if they had been asked to come into the Savage case by either Sheriff Knezovich or Chief Kirkpatrick and or jointly. I’ve met with Sheriff Knezovich and spoken with him on the phone he has assured me that the feds have been giving him regular updates and that they would have an answer one way or another before the statue of limitations runs out on the Jo Savage First-Degree Manslaughter case under Wasington State Law. The RPS fraud and Savage cases are currently under review by the US Attorney’s Office in Seattle now that US Attorney Jim McDevitt has recused himself and were reassigned to the Seattle Office. Two Assistant US Attorneys are now reviewing the documents that Tim Connor of Camas Magazine and former Council member Cherie Rodgers provided to US Attorney Jim Mcdevitt who subsequently recused himself because of his employment with the law firm of Preston & Gates that was involved in the issuance of the RPS bond (See Camas Magazine, “McDevitt’s Fingerprints”). Michael Ormsby of Preston & Gates who was without precedent publicly castigated by the IRS last year for his involvement:
This is the same Michael Ormsby that the IRS took the unprecedented action of castigating publicly in implicating him in the RPS bond fraud as reported in Bond Buyer for, “. . . incompetence and disreputable conduct”[My emphasis]. The Bond Buyer mistakenly reported though that the tax-exempt status of the RPS bonds was preserved in this settlement. In fact the tax-exempt status was disallowed and the IRS got its back taxes of . . . through a secret deal with Preston & Gates [Note: I had an amount of these taxes previously but can no longer stand by that number]
I told Sheriff Knezovich I had the brass to believe with what I know I could make the Jo Savage case if I had a cooperative local prosecutor however the white collar crime aspect of this case would definitely make it much stronger. Local DA Tucker’s past performance and practice leaves a lot to be desired in handling cases of this magnitude. This is the FBI’s specialty. I’ve said all along from my read of the IRS report, Camas Magazine documents, papers of O. Yale Lewis, Attorney Mark Schwartz’s letter to the then Mayor Powers withheld from Council, I would have impaneled a federal grand jury a long time ago to secure and compel the testimony of reluctant witnesses and to once and for all review all the evidence to determine if any federal criminal indictments are warranted. To do anything less in my opinion would be a travesty of justice.
With that said my main concern is that Sheriff Knezovich and Chief Kirkpatrick may be putting too much trust in the feds. Will they commit and actually engage on these cases? The feds at times march to different drummers, suffer from multiple layers of bureaucratic inertia and are sometimes like pushing Jello up hill. The feds could be rustling the papers and letting the game clock run out. There is an upcoming presidential election that may replace sitting US Attorneys. Sheriff Knezovich and Chief Kirkpatrick may have expressed their concerns in private to the feds but they need to assure the public that they are watching the feds to ensure the feds don’t dump these cases. I concur with Sheriff Bamonte a year is a long time to go for the principal witnesses in the Jo Savage murder case not to be interviewed and their testimony obtained for the record. That’s assuming they haven’t been called in secret before a fed grand jury. I find this somewhat unlikely as our spider web probably would have signaled witnesses were being called to testify and or interviewed. I know sometime us cops can be pains in the butts as victims and demand a lot. However with what is at stake in these cases the spotlight needs to be put on the feds to ensure they do their job.
There is no doubt in my mind that a successful case of negligent homicide re the Savage death can be brought at the State level regarding the actions and omissions related to due diligence and lack of ordinary care of the owners of the RPS parking garage that were the direct cause of her death. This could perhaps be done by the State Attorney General’s Office with the investigation done by the Washington State Patrol if requested. Such an investigation could parallel and dovetail with the federal organized crime investigation.
To excise the incestuous, insidious, and embedded evil of this ongoing criminal enterprise/conspiracy from our midst it’s going to take the full resources of the federal government. My words of caution to both Sheriff Knezovich and Chief Kirkpatrick are that they don’t get left in the train station if the feds tarry too long and let the state statue of limitations lapse on the Savage case. Yes the feds can get around statue of limitations issue by a showing that this whole matter is the result of an ongoing criminal enterprise/conspiracy which would remove the time limit for bringing a case but this would require jumping through many more hoops which may not be necessary if they pursued these cases in a timely fashion.
Ron the Cop
I received this email from Larry Shook of Camas Magazine in answer to an email from Sheriff Bamonte:
Dear Sheriff Bamonte: Thank you for providing me with the letter below that you wrote to Spokane Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich concerning the death of Jo Ellen Savage in the River Park Square parking garage. As you note, I have previously requested that you keep me informed of your efforts to bring about a first-degree manslaughter investigation into Ms. Savage’s death. I appreciate your doing so.
You also make a “formal” request of me to respond to this letter to Sheriff Knezovich and to certain of the material referred to in the letter. Because of the gravity of your efforts, their relevance to my reporting, the significance of the contents of this material, and in order to create as broad a record as possible, in honoring your request I am also copying my response to various public officials and to individuals whose actions are at issue in your investigation. I am also blind copying this e-mail to many citizens whom I know are concerned about the Cowles family’s conduct in Spokane.
Your recent letters to Sheriff Knezovich, and Mayor Verner’s 11/02/07 e-mail to you, in which she acknowledges Spokane’s “powers that be,” are included as attachments to this e-mail. I have done this in order to assist recipients in forming their own conclusions. All recipients of this correspondence are naturally free to distribute it as they choose. Because of the extraordinary public interest at issue, I encourage wide distribution of this material. I believe that not only the citizens of Spokane, but also those of the region and nation, need to be made aware of the public corruption you are helping to expose. As former Spokane Councilwoman Cherie Rodgers said of Spokane’s public corruption, “It’s a kind of cancer.”
Let me begin by saying that in more than 30 years experience as a journalist, I consider this body of correspondence (your letter to Sheriff Knezovich, Mayor Verner’s 11/02/07 e-mail to you, and Mr. Cowles’s letter to you) to be one of the most illuminating public records I have ever seen. This is because of: 1) The evidence of public corruption in Spokane that it contains; 2) The evidence it contains that the mayor of Spokane is well aware of this corruption; 3) And the attitude toward this corruption on the part of Spokesman-Review publisher Stacey Cowles, one of those most implicated by the evidence. Mr. Cowles is so implicated because of the role played by his newspaper in misleading the public about the multi-million dollar River Park Square fraud and the circumstances of Ms. Savage’s death.
You write that you do not know how to respond to Mr. Cowles’s June 5, 2008 letter to you “without insulting his integrity or memory.” I’m afraid that I don’t either.
In his letter to you, Mr. Cowles writes: “There is zero evidence of any member of the Cowles family ‘controlling’ City Hall or any of the men or women who work in it as elected officials or employees.”
I don’t know why Mr. Cowles put “controlling” in quotes, unless it was an attempt to give the word some strangely narrow or technical connotation meant to evade the extraordinary evidence that it was his family’s extraordinary influence over Spokane’s city government that caused the scandal surrounding the River Park Square “public/private partnership.”
Mr. Cowles’s letter to you is so fundamentally at odds with the documented record that I consider it nothing less than sophistry of the most transparent kind. I’m not going to respond to that sophistry in great detail because of the magnitude of the absurdity involved. I actually liken Mr. Cowles’s letter to you to denials that the Holocaust took place. Instead, I invite you, and all others who might be interested, to compare Mr. Cowles’s letter to you to the published reporting at www.camasmagazine.com.
This needn’t take a lot of work. For a quick comparison of Mr. Cowles’s characterization versus the published record, click on “Archives” at the Camas Web site. Then click on “The Ultimate Archive” and download it onto your computer as a pdf. This is an 800 plus-page searchable document that contains all Camas reporting, plus links to the massive documentation behind it.
As an orientation in using the search function, key in, for instance, “Editor & Publisher.” That will bring up the article, “Cowles Conflict-of-Interest Draws Censure,” page 463. The article contains a harrowing warning by Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen that the Cowles family’s media abuse represents a threat to democracy in America. Go to the end of the article and click on the link to the July 15, 2002 Editor & Publisher magazine editorial called “Slapp-Happy Spokane.” There, you will read the Bible of the American newspaper industry censuring the Cowles family for suing elected officials for having the nerve to criticize the Cowleses for improperly leveraging some $100 million of the public’s money to re-develop their shopping mall.
Again, let me emphasize that you don’t have to read all, or even much, of Camas’s reporting and support documentation in order to evaluate Mr. Cowles’s statements. Instead, take just a few minutes and review the 15-page table of contents and thumbnail summary of each article. You’ll read entries like:
“Schwartz Files Released. March 23, 2002. A Former City Attorney Tried Unsuccessfully to Block Excessive Cowles Profit-Taking.” That story, on page 289, describes secret efforts of former city attorney Stan Schwartz. Not only did the public never get to learn of Mr. Schwartz’s concerns, Mr. Schwartz left city government as River Park Square was sinking into its securities fraud scandal. He went to work for the Cowles law firm of Witherspoon Kelley, where, as he informed his former City of Spokane colleague Dennis Beringer, the city’s former real estate manager, he works extensively with Betsy Cowles on real estate deals. Obviously, Mr. Schwarz’s employment change has the appearance of a thank you and reminder from the Cowles family: Thank you for helping us with our excess profit-taking. Remember to keep your mouth shut.
And: “Document of the Week. August 7, 2003. City bond counsel gave advice to the Cowles family.” That story, on page 577, describes how former City of Spokane bond counsel Roy Koegen told Cowles public relations representative Janet Gilpatrick that he had advised Stacey Cowles how to use the Cowles newspaper to manipulate public opinion concerning the River Park Square securities fraud case. Gilpatrick wrote a memo about her conversation with Koegen to Betsy Cowles and other Cowles public relations personnel. “‘If Talbott knew…it would be a very bad thing,'” advised Gilpatrick. “‘He is very, very concerned that his handprints are not on any of these ideas,’ she wrote. ‘And if [then-mayor John] Talbott knew he had any contact with ‘the family,’ it would be a very bad thing.'”
Yes, a very bad thing, indeed.
“The family” Ms. Gilpatrick referred to, of course, is the one that the current mayor of Spokane, Mary Verner, clearly suggested to you in her 11/2/07 e-mail constitutes the “powers that be” in Spokane. This is “the family” that actually runs Spokane, in other words.
What Koegen, Betsy Cowles and Stacey Cowles and their public relations firm did is a veritable onionskin of misconduct. What it comes down to is that the bond counsel charged with protecting Spokane’s taxpayers, in blatant violation of his legal, moral, and ethical responsibilities, conspired with the beneficiary of a bond sale that violated federal tax rules to fool the public about the truth. This resulted in a multi-million-dollar fraud that will take Spokane’s taxpayers a generation to pay off. Meanwhile, Mr. Koegen, with the blessings of the Washington State Bar Association, still practices law.
A mere glance at the Camas table of contents reveals that these two incidents typify the hidden connivance that took place between the Cowles family and city officials in defrauding the public of an extraordinary amount of money. That connivance, as I report in “Death by Parking” at www.girlfromhotsprings.com, may also have contributed to the death of a patron of the Cowles parking garage. This connivance is why the first RPS special counsel, O. Yale Lewis, immediately found evidence of a conspiracy between the Cowleses and city officials to misappropriate public funds.
I will remark on two additional comments from Mr. Cowles’s letter to you. “There is no evidence of Cowles family media control; this too is a populist myth used by those who need us as a bogeyman,” he writes.
Contrast that with the picture of Cowles media conduct that emerges from the story “All In The Family,” page 102, a national prize-winning article, and “Camas Investigation Wins National Prize,” page 692, at www.camasmagzine.com. The latter story concerns a 10-part reporting package called “How The Spokesman-Review Subverted Democracy in Spokane, Washington.” Because you mention that you are in the process of bringing a class action lawsuit against the Cowleses and their co-conspirators, you might find this reporting especially useful. For the purposes of your litigation, a pragmatic alternative headline could easily be: “How The Cowleses Used their Newspaper to Pervert Justice and Defraud Taxpayers in Washington State’s Second-Largest City.”
You might also wish to contrast Mr. Cowles’s denial of his family’s media control with the articles, “‘The Stench That Won’t Go Away’ How The Spokesman-Review’s credibility crisis turned deadly,” and “A Newspaper Monopoly Town: An old Harvard economics thesis foreshadowed
the River Park Square controversy” at www.girlfromhotsprings.com. In these various articles, you will see that Cowles editorial personnel do not share Mr. Cowles’s sanguine view of his family’s media conduct.
Also contrast Mr. Cowles’s statement about his family’s media control with the facts surrounding the Mark Fuhrman Radio Show. Mr. Fuhrman had hosted several programs that frankly addressed the River Park Square scandal. The Cowles family entered into a partnership that purchased the radio station broadcasting the Fuhrman Show, fired Fuhrman, and hired his producer, Rebecca Mack, to begin broadcasting a new radio show from the offices of the Cowles newspaper. The change was promoted with a color photo of Ms. Mack on the front page of The Spokesman-Review. A simple comparison of Ms. Mack’s non-Cowles programming with her Cowles-funded programming should prove informative for jurors of a class action lawsuit.
Also contrast Mr. Cowles’s statement with the fate of Tom Grant. See “Requiem for a Reporter” at www.camasmagazine.com.
Contrast it, too, with the evidence contained in the request made by former Camas senior editor Tim Connor and former Councilwoman Cherie Rodgers for the U.S. Department of Justice to launch a criminal investigation into River Park Square’s public corruption. (See “Indictments Sought” at www.camasmagazine.com.)
Finally, Mr. Cowles’s reference to assistant U.S. attorney Jim McDevitt deserves special attention. “If we endorsed Jim McDevitt, it was because he’s a talented, independent-minded and capable attorney,” Mr. Cowles wrote you.
But the evidence is clear that Mr. McDevitt played a crucial role in the RPS fraud. He was an attorney for the law firm that represented the seller of the RPS garage municipal bonds used to pay the Cowleses an exorbitant price for the facility. (See “Hocus-Pocus” at www.camasmagazine.com.) Mr. McDevitt, in compliance with a request from RPS developer Betsy Cowles, helped suppress the news that nearly half the money needed to pay off the bonds was lost before the bond proceeds were released to the Cowles family. That cover-up virtually guaranteed the garage’s bankruptcy with the attendant fiscal disaster it visited on Spokane.
As with Mr. Koegen’s conduct, it is hard to adequately summarize the magnitude of Mr. McDevitt’s wrongdoing. Suffice it to say that he was instrumental in illegally transferring $26 million of a bond sale that violated federal tax law to Cowles real estate companies. (It was an illegal transfer, because federal law required that prospective investors be informed of the lost revenue. Spokane taxpayers, who would be making up for the massive revenue deficit with precious funds meant to maintain Spokane’s streets and pay for Spokane’s police and fire protection, had a legal right to know, too; and public officials who conspired to hide the lost revenue from Spokane’s citizens are part of the public corruption that permeates RPS.) But the Cowleses wanted investors kept in the dark about that lost revenue. And they also wanted the people of Spokane—their own neighbors whose money they were effectively stealing—kept in the dark. They wanted them lied to. And, with his illegal silence, Mr. McDevitt went along with that request.
That was “talented, independent-minded and capable” lawyering of Mr. McDevitt, as Mr. Cowles sees it. The Cowles newspaper ran a flattering story heralding Mr. McDevitt as the “perfect choice” for U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington.
“Thank you for helping us steal,” is what that story basically said. But the story went beyond that in its menacing impact. It said, “Here is the kind of immoral, illegal conduct that Cowles media will publicly celebrate as commendable when it furthers the family’s enterprise.” That’s why I compare Mr. Cowles’s letter to you to Holocaust denial. As history records, at the heart of the Nazi madness was the ability of Nazis to convince themselves that they were good people doing a difficult thing.
Mr. McDevitt’s subsequent appointment put him in the perfect position to cover up the RPS robbery, and his role in it. As U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington, he was able to ensure that there would be no federal criminal probes. The RPS securities fraud that is costing Spokane taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, and the circumstances leading up to Jo Savage’s tragic death, are matters that the “perfect choice” for U.S. attorney for Eastern Washington has diligently ignored.
For details of Mr. McDevitt’s “talented, independent-minded and capable” legal conduct, see “McDevitt’s Fingerprints,” “Indictments Sought,” “Jim McDevitt’s Non-Disclosure,” “McDevitt v. Ethics Rules,” and “Under the Influence” at www.camasmagazine.com.
Within the “McDevitt’s Fingerprints” package you will find the entire Spokesman-Review article about Mr. McDevitt’s appointment to assistant U.S. attorney. I urge you and all other recipients of this e-mail to study it carefully and compare it with the record of Mr. McDevitt’s conduct made available by the Camas reporting. I believe this is a valuable exhibit of how the Cowles family uses its media to reward those who assist it in its corrupt practices.
Please note that this e-mail is being copied to Stacey Cowles, his editor, Steve Smith, and certain Cowles reporters. I do this in order to test Mr. Cowles’s assertion that perception of his family’s media monopoly is a “populist myth.” If Cowles media were an honest enterprise, pledged to serving the public interest, under the published ethical standards of journalism, Cowles personnel, beginning with Mr. Cowles himself, would vigorously pursue the facts as they are presented in this correspondence. Failure to do so, I believe, exposes Mr. Cowles and his family as cynical exploiters of the public and those in the family’s employ as little more than indentured servants in an enterprise of massive public corruption.
The recent hiring of former Fuhrman Show producer Rebecca Mack is one of the most poignant examples of this I have seen. As former Los Angeles Police Dept. Detective Mark Fuhrman’s colleague, Ms. Mack was as gutsy as Det. Fuhrman himself in discussing Cowles corruption. When the Cowleses put Ms. Mack’s smiling picture in a banner atop the August 6, 2008 edition of The Spokesman-Review it struck me as one of those stranger-than-fiction ironies history is so famous for. It was exactly a year-to-the-day earlier that Ms. Mack and Det. Fuhrman had questioned a nervous Jim McDevitt on their radio show about his complicity in the RPS fraud. And now here was Ms. Mack being publicly paraded as the newest Cowles editorial property. All things considered, for me at least, it was like seeing a POW paraded by her captors.
Jo Savage’s death underscores the brutality of this situation. In his letter to you, Mr. Cowles comes close to blaming Ms. Savage for her own death by “crashing” through and “testing” a barrier put there to save her. Had the Savage death gone to trial, the full cynicism of Mr. Cowles’s interpretation would have been brought to life. Jurors would have been presented with the evidence you cite of the Cowles family’s indifference to public safety. They would have been able to gauge for themselves the impact of Ms. Savage’s death on her loved ones, beginning with her son Jesse. But that didn’t happen, and it leaves Mr. Cowles free to disparage Ms. Savage for the carelessness on her part that claimed her life. Of course, Ms. Savage should have known, as any reasonable patron of the Cowles garage should know, that those barriers aren’t really barriers. They aren’t actually capable of holding cars in the garage and protecting drivers’ lives. That seems to be Mr. Cowles’s argument. And he makes it with full knowledge that none of the indentured servants who work as reporters for him will challenge him by actually reporting on the facts.
Naturally, a grand jury would have found all of this evidence—and the evidence produced during the RPS securities fraud trial–informative. But through the selective reporting and reward and punishment of their media, what Mayor Verner acknowledges are “the powers that be” in Spokane have apparently succeeded in dissuading public officials from serving their constituents and calling for a grand jury.
A class action jury will no doubt find all of this evidence informative. The evidence suggests to me that such a trial will prove historical in the most literal possible sense.
Sheriff, you made a “formal” request of me to respond to your recent correspondence. In trying to honor your request I have let this response run on too long. As you can see, it could go on much longer. The evidence suggests to me that River Park Square, and “the powers that be” in our community, represent a bottomless pit of corruption.
I will close by saying that, again based on the evidence, I certainly understand your frustration with the response of Spokane Mayor Mary Verner, Spokane Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, and Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich to your multiple requests for them to discharge their duties as prescribed by the Revised Code of Washington. I confess that the long delay on the part of federal investigators in responding to your first-degree manslaughter complaint and the Rodgers/Connor fraud complaint also causes me great concern. Your class action lawsuit will produce a long list of witnesses, elected and appointed officials among them, whose testimony, coupled with the considerable discovery this litigation will entail, will help the public finally understand what was done to it, how much it cost in money, and how much it continues to cost the citizens of Spokane, Washington State, and the nation itself.
Sincerely, Larry Shook
Attachments: Cowles letter to you and two letters from you to S
July 30, 2008
As you are aware, we are working on a major history book of this area. One of our chapters will cover public/private collusion, fraud and corruption involving the Cowles family. My research substantiates that this political corruption goes back over 100 years, but the most blatant and costly organized corruption in the history of Spokane involves the RPS scheme.
For your own journalistic research purposes, you asked me to keep you posted on my documentation concerning my efforts to seek justice in the public’s best interest. As such, I am enclosing copies of letters I mailed to Sheriff Knezovich on July 23, 2008 and July 30, 2008. As you know, I have been disappointed with the integrity level of our governmental leadership and, consequently, have been documenting much of the evidence of corruption that I have found. Also, as a result of correspondence I have generated to this point in my documentation, I have concluded that there appears to be an ongoing cover-up by public officials who have been and continue to be party to this criminal conduct.
I have advised you on a number of occasions that your reporting in Camas Magazine and on your Girl From Hot Springs web site concerning the RPS scandal is an important source of information for our project. Consequently, I have written Spokesman-Review Editor Steven Smith five letters and publisher Stacey Cowles two letters asking both of them to identify anything in your writings that is not accurate or truthful. Editor Smith replied to one of my letters stating: “Mr. Bamonte – I stand behind my previous statements without qualification or equivocation. And, as always, you may quote me.” That response did not answer my questions and was obscure to me, as I did not know what “previous statements” he was referring to. Mr. Smith has made no statements to me concerning my requests that he provide me with documentation of errors in your reporting.
Stacey Cowles has e-mailed a response to both of my letters. His first response was a non-response similar to Mr. Smith’s. I am enclosing a copy of his second response, which I ask that you take a look at and comment on. To this date, I have not responded to that e-mail as it both ignores my request to document errors in your reporting and makes assertions of facts completely at odds with your reporting, and the facts as I have been able to independently learn them. Although I appreciate the time Mr. Cowles took to formulate his response, I don’t know exactly how to respond without insulting his integrity or memory.
For example, his company took delivery of the Walker Condition Assessment Engineer’s final report issued June 14, 1996. This report documents the deteriorated condition of the garage and the dangerous lack of safety repairs. It specifically addressed the concern that the pre-cast panels used to keep cars from falling out of the garage were in need of replacement or repair, stating some have deteriorated “so far as to threaten the immediate stability of the panels.” In fact, it was a failure of one of these panels that caused the death of Jo Ellen Savage. Ten years later, when Jo Ellen Savage’s car bumped one of these very panels and was pulled by the lip of that panel over the side of the garage to her gruesome death four stories below, the recommended repairs from this report had still not been completed. Adding to evidence of the Cowles family’s reckless disregard for public safety is the fact that following Ms. Savage’s death and months after, throughout the summer of 2006, other than securing a piece of plywood in place of the panel that had pulled Savage to her death, repairs were still not made. Cars were allowed to still park directly below the exact location of the failed pre-cast panel. Moreover, mall patrons were permitted to dine in an outdoor seating area directly beneath these dangerous panels.
Also, there was the Jacobson & Associates, Inc. Report, an engineering report completed in 2003 for the purpose of assisting with the appraisal work required to sell this garage to the city. This report scathingly condemns the condition of the garage and strongly accentuates that the recommendations in the Walker report were not followed. (It should be noted that the RPS garage was not a new garage. It was built in 1973-74.) The 2003 Jacobson Report again greatly emphasizes the dangerous condition of the parking garage and blatant disregard of the known and immediate recommended repairs – repairs that were recommended, but ignored, as needing immediate attention in 1996. Page three of this report specifically brings to the attention of all concerned that the recommendations concerning the dangerous conditions outlined in the 1996 Walker report had not been performed stating: “These findings are serious and indicate an imperative for actions to repair, restore and protect it as a safe low life-cycle cost facility.”
Based on these two reports, had the owners of the parking garage followed their recommendations, Jo Savage would not have been killed as a result of the known dangerous conditions that were recklessly left to exist.
Another glaring example exists of the Cowles family’s long-standing knowledge of the hazard that killed Ms. Savage. On May 18, 2006, the Spokesman-Review published a photo of a barrier failure that had occurred in 1990. That failure was almost identical to the one that took Ms. Savage’s life 16 years later. There simply is no way of reconciling the evidence to fit Mr. Cowles’s version of the facts. In view of this, I consider certain statements Mr. Cowles made in his June 5, 2008, e-mail to me to reflect some of the most callous disregard for human life that I have ever encountered in my 25-year law enforcement career. Mr. Cowles’s statement in his e-mail response to me: “. . . a woman tragically, but neglectfully crashes her car off a parking deck that owners ensured met nationally accepted building code requirements and was considered safe by 3rd parties before that instant. We did not advise the driver to test our barriers, nor did we have the obligation to tell her not to. . . .” The eyewitness accounts clearly show Ms Savage was not neglectful nor was she intentionally risking her life to test the garage’s safety. Also, according to the accident report, there was only minor scuffing on her front bumper where it came in contact with the wall panel. That disrespectful statement by Mr. Cowles directly flies in the face of the facts as they truly exist and suggests that he feels no remorse that Ms. Savage died as a direct result of his family’s neglect of a well-documented public safety hazard.
Among the most brazen points Mr. Cowles makes in his response to me was his following statement: “I don’t know why Bill Pupo or Nick Dragisich would recommend against City inspection of the garage, except that they may have felt it wasn’t worth the time or expense. You should ask them.” I have mailed copies of the Berringer report to Editor Smith, Publisher Cowles, Chief Kirpatrick, Sheriff Knezxovich and Mayor Verner. In his report Mr. Berringer provides evidence that Betsy Cowles ordered Pupo not to inspect the garage. This was extremely upsetting to at least 15 city employees who were aware of this and a direct violation of the cities building inspection policy. When I provided the Mayor and Steve Smith with this information, I asked Mr. Smith to conduct a journalistic investigation into Mr. Berringer’s allegations, which he did not respond to. They were obviously ordered not to inspect the garage because the previous reports strongly suggested the garage would not pass inspection. If as Mr. Cowles stated, “they may have felt it wasn’t worth the time or expense,” That would be a major news story. Why are all other construction projects required to be inspected, but not the Cowles because it wasn’t worth the time or expense. Had it been inspected by the city as required, it wouldn’t have passed an inspection as attested to by the previous private inspection reports and the barrier failure that took Ms. Savage’s life. Incidentally, I checked the city records and the RPS parking garage that Ms. Savage died in was not inspected by the city.
Although the lack of response by Editor Smith and Publisher Cowles to my inquiry concerning the Camas reporting suggests they cannot find anything untruthful or inaccurate in your reporting, I have a policy, as a former law enforcement officer and current writer/publisher/historian, to exhaust every effort to learn the facts. As such, please accept this e-mail as a formal request for you to respond to my (attached) letters to Sheriff Knezovich and (attached) June 5, 2008, e-mail response from Publisher Stacey Cowles.
This request is doubly important to me now, as the filing phase of a class action litigation to be brought against the Cowles family and certain city officials who may have acted illegally is approaching. Because of evidence contained in your reporting, I am now concerned that these “ultra vires” acts may also apply to the unlawful death of Jo Ellen Savage in the RPS garage on April 8, 2006. I am further concerned that current public officials are implicated in this wrongdoing because of their failure to perform duties imposed on them by law. If discovery in the class action suit proves such illegal activity on the part of public officials, they will be pursued individually, not as representatives of the public. This is because the public, whose trust they have betrayed, are not responsible for any illegal acts they may have engaged in.
Further, in my June 23, 2008, letter to Sheriff Knezovich, I released a November 2, 2007, e-mail to me from (then councilwoman) Mayor Verner. In that e-mail, Ms. Verner stated: “This reply contains confidential information, please treat this as a confidential communication.” Based on her statements within that communication I was left with the impression she possessed integrity, understood the RPS fraud, was aware of the city’s control by the Cowles family and would take action if she were elected.
Since Ms. Verner’s election to the highest office for the city of Spokane, I have learned her rhetoric to me was disingenuous. Since she took office, I have provided her with substantial evidence regarding unethical and criminal actions by city officials. She has not responded to any of this. Up to that time, I honored her request of confidentiality as I felt her interest was to serve the public. Since that time, she has proven to be part of a continued cover-up. For me to conceal the evidence of her criminal knowledge, as she expressed in her e-mail, would make me a party to this continued malfeasance by her and other public officials.