LETTER: U. S. Attorney reports on 2011 White Center raid convictions
(Editor’s Note: United States Attorney Jenny Durkan has provided the following update to White Center residents on the aftermath of Operation Center of Attention, a multi-agency raid of drug and gun traffickers operating out of the White Center area in 2011:
Dear White Center Community Members:
I hope the New Year finds you well. I am writing to provide an update on the collaborative public safety efforts in the White Center area.
As you know, the multi-agency, federal and local law enforcement operation, called “Center of Attention,” that ended in late October 2011, focused on violent offenders who used White Center to engage in criminal activity. The King County Prosecutor’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office have been working hard with our law enforcement partners to bring those offenders to justice.
Among the 25 federal defendants, nearly all have now been convicted and sentenced. Two dozen have pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial, including the successful prosecution of an armed career criminal just before the end of the year. That defendant, Michael Gradney, faces a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence.
To date, 21 defendants have been sentenced to prison, including significant prison time for defendants selling large amounts of dangerous drugs and firearms. In fact, the total amount of prison time that judges have imposed on the federal Center of Attention defendants is nearly 1400 months, or 115 years.
Of the 26 state prosecutions, some have resulted in guilty findings while many are still pending. State prosecutors are pursuing convictions and sentences in line with the goals of “Center of Attention.”
In addition to “Center of Attention” defendants, the owner of the former G.A.M.E. marijuana lounge pleaded guilty to a federal felony and was sentenced to six months of federal probation. Federal probation is very rigorous, with close supervision by a federal probation officer and the possibility of prison time for up to three years if the defendant does not follow the probationary conditions. Judge Ricardo Martinez indicated he would be watching very closely to ensure the owner of G.A.M.E. did not violate any conditions of his probation.
And, just last week, as part of our ongoing enforcement efforts, prosecutors in our office convicted a man who committed an armed robbery of the Chase bank located at SW 100th Street and 16th Avenue.
I continue to hear about positive, proactive policing and a high level of responsiveness from the King County Sheriff’s Office and Seattle Police Department. You have great support from your elected officials, including County Executive Dow Constantine and Councilmember Joe McDermott, Sheriff John Urquhart (and his predecessor Steve Strachan), and Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg.
I am pleased to see new businesses in place in the heart of the commercial corridor. I also am aware that there is still work to do, and I remain committed to working with you to address public safety concerns in the area.
I am constantly impressed by the number of engaged residents who care deeply about the future of White Center. White Center is an incredibly vibrant and active community, and all of us – including area residents, local business owners, non-profits, educators, government agencies, faith leaders, elected officials, law enforcement officers, and prosecutors – have a stake in its success.
I look forward to continuing our work together in the New Year.
Jenny A. Durkan
United States Attorney