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Whatcom County Electronic Home Monitoring Investigation


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This powerpoint explains my involvement in a 2007 electronic home monitoring fraud investigation in Whatcom County, Washington. To be clear, I am no longer a deputy with the WCSO. I was dismissed on Jun 22nd, 2012 for reasons related to what is described in this PowerPoint.

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  • 'Stanley has a long history of sexual offenses against women and children and had been missing since Oct. 1, when he cut off his electronic-monitoring bracelet near the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary. In the aftermath, schools in several west-central Saskatchewan communities locked their doors and kept children inside after police got multiple, unconfirmed sightings of the Edmonton man.'
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  • There is a federal lawsuit filed in the Washington Western District Court of Seattle. Paul Murphy vs Bill Elfo, Whatcom County et al
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  • Flaws Revealed in Electronic Monitoring
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  • Analysis finds not enough monitoring of monitoring bracelets in US
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  • Evan Ebel Update: Murder suspect slipped ankle bracelet 5 days before officials noticed
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Whatcom County Electronic Home Monitoring Investigation

  1. 1. Electronic Home Monitoring Fraud InvestigationDiscovered: 2007by: Paul R. Murphy, (Former Detective,3A147, Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office)(Redacted For Public Release)
  2. 2. System Overview Basic operation of electronic home monitoring (EHM)/electronic home detention (EHD) programs across the United States. EHM vs. EHD Electronic Home Monitoring is a safe and valid alternative to incarceration, for lesser crimes, if properly administered.
  3. 3. Criminal Justice Corruption Corruption Possibly the single greatest case of corruption in Whatcom County history. If there was one larger, I’m not aware of it. Far reaching implications. Nationwide impact. 3,141 counties in the United States.
  4. 4. Electronic Home Monitoring inWhatcom County, Washington AKA: Electronic Home Detention Occurs in two forms: Privately, through privately owned monitoring outfits and bail bond company’s. Law Enforcement administered through the County Sheriff’s Office.
  5. 5. Electronic Home Monitoring inWhatcom County, Washington Typically through Jail Alternatives Programs or Court ordered through Judgment and Sentencing (J&S), Pre- Trial Release conditions or bail bond process, in accordance with requirements set forth in RCW 9.94A.734 EHM is NOT permitted for certain crimes per the RCW.
  6. 6. EHM Exclusions per RCW (1) Home detention may not be imposed for offenders convicted of the following offenses, unless imposed as partial confinement in the departments parenting program under RCW 9.94A.6551: (a) A violent offense; (b) Any sex offense; (c) Any drug offense; (d) Reckless burning in the first or second degree as defined in RCW 9A.48.040 or 9A.48.050; (e) Assault in the third degree as defined in RCW 9A.36.031; (f) Assault of a child in the third degree; (g) Unlawful imprisonment as defined in RCW 9A.40.040; or (h) Harassment as defined in RCW 9A.46.020.
  7. 7. EHM Fraud Was DiscoveredONLY In Private Companies The WCSO program was contracted through WASPC. There was no fraud found in the WCSO administered monitoring program. The WCSO administered program was found to be fully accountable through initial set-up at subject residence, physical random spot checks and found to be fully responsive to system alerts. There were others, but I personally posted PC for “Escape” on one work release EHM subject that failed to check-in.
  8. 8. Private Monitoring No contracts of any kind were found between any privately held company or Whatcom County government entity. No contract means no accountability. ie; Privatized incarceration. Convictee’s had to pay for their own daily monitoring. Convictees were choosing private monitoring due to lesser cost than WCSO managed monitoring. Approx. $15 per day private, compared to $20 per day through WCSO.
  9. 9. Private Monitoring vs. WCSO If private monitoring costs $5 less per day, paid entirely by the subject detainee, why would anyone choose the higher cost WCSO program?
  10. 10. Behavioral Interventions (BI) A Colorado based company. The only US company at that time providing the technology services for electronic home monitoring. All private and all LE monitoring entities in the US subcontract through BI for electronic monitoring technology services.
  11. 11. BI Monitoring Equipment The only equipment available at that time were two older systems of unknown manufacture. Both were radio-frequency (RF) based systems, which have since been discontinued and replaced with a better BI 9000 global positioning satellite (GPS) based system.
  12. 12. BI Monitoring Equipment On site monitoring system technology has improved significantly, but as you’ll see in following slides it has no bearing on the inability of the system to identify subscriber fraud problems, like what were discovered in the following private monitoring instances of fraud. The BI system cannot compensate for insider compromise. If you have a bad subscriber, that entire company is compromised.
  13. 13. Electronic Monitoring:Basic Operation Functions similar to a home alarm system like ADT. Monitored systems and “the box” are linked electronically to BI, through telephone landlines or cellular connections. DTMF (dual tone - multi frequency) Communicates through telephone connections like a PC modem.
  14. 14. Electronic Monitoring:Basic Operation System alarms, out-of-zone trips, periodic checks and routine system self-check faults are reported ONLY to the subscriber entity. EHM faults and trips are not reported to the courts. Not reported to LE. Not reported to 911. BI reports non-compliance ONLY to the subscriber. In other words, if the subscriber doesn’t report the violation, it didn’t happen!
  15. 15. Operational ExampleFor example, an EHM detainee decides toskip out on his zone of containment orattempts to defeat the system in some way. The monitoring system immediately alerts BI, electronically, automatically. BI in turn also alerts the subscriber entity of the breach through voice, email, fax or other electronic notifications.
  16. 16. The Key Point & The Flaw The BI SUBSCRIBER, the entity under contract with BI for electronic monitoring services, NOT BI, decides whether or not to act on the alert! If the subscriber doesn’t alert authorities, or 911, then the courts and LE never become aware of the breach!
  17. 17. Personal Notes I was a commissioned law enforcement officer of 11 years experience. I have significant investigative experience. I have extensive training and experience in sophisticated leading edge avionics and computer technology used on premier US Air Force Fighter/Bomber aircraft and various USAF communications systems.
  18. 18. Personal Notes I do not believe that the problems I identified with electronic home monitoring is the fault of anything BI has control of. Current EHM law needs to be changed to close the loophole, requiring BI to also notify, 911, LE and the courts of system alerts and breaches. The monitoring technology is sound and it works well, but ONLY when it’s properly administered.
  19. 19. Personal Notes All problems I found were traced back to disreputable and/or criminally compromised subscribers providing EHM services through the courts EHM subjects can be on scheduled and monitored work release, or 24x7 home detention EHM inmates, depending on Judgment & Sentencing (J&S) stipulations. Work release EHM clients are deemed to have “Escaped” if they leave, or fail to report back to their monitored residence, according to the scheduled timeframes imposed by the courts.
  20. 20. EHM Case & Findings Now that you have an overview of how the EHM system works, I’ll go through the evolution of this case and the resultant findings as it relates to the 2007 Whatcom County, Washington investigation.
  21. 21. EHM Case Disclosure I was investigating an unrelated case and it was learned from an informant that inside circle people could “buy time off the clock” through a local private monitoring company. It was further disclosed that inside circle people, “friend’s of XXXXXXX,” could buy, sell, trade services of all kinds, mostly criminal in nature, to illegally have unmonitored & unreported EHM “time off.”
  22. 22. EHM Case Disclosure Examples cited were as follows:1. Trading for drugs.2. Trading for drug related activities.3. Buying “time off the clock.”4. To help out friends.5. Smuggling assistance.6. Trading for sex.7. Trading for stolen property.
  23. 23. Research I discussed the informant’s disclosure with my supervisor XXX. XXXXXXXX. I didn’t understand at that time how electronic monitoring was administered. We didn’t think it was possible for such a thing to happen. A formal investigation began around early 2007.
  24. 24. Research I spoke with other Whatcom County employees involved with in-house monitoring and learned how the system worked and how it was managed by WCSO jailers, through the primary BI subscriber, Washington Association of Sheriff’s and Police Chiefs (WASPC.) I began researching Whatcom County court records and found that the majority of cases of interest involved the principles noted on the next slide.
  25. 25. Principle Players XXXXXX Monitoring XXXXXXXXXXXXXX, LLC XXXXXXX Bail Bonds XXXXXXX Bail Bonds XXXXXXXXXX (owner) XXXXXXXXXX (owner) XXXXXXXXXX (owner) XXXXXXXXXXXX (Public Defender’s Office)(Redacted for public release)
  26. 26. Case Development Through researching cases and court records, it was discovered that most affected cases had an affidavit submitted by the BI subscriber, certifying full completion and compliance of EHM Judgment & Sentencing (J&S). It was determined that XXXXXXXXXXX, of the Public Defender’s office, is who primarily sought the private monitoring.
  27. 27. Case Development Numerous specific instances of EHM non- compliance were identified. Numerous felony forgery crimes for filing false affidavits through the courts were identified. Through consult with my supervisor, it was determined that we needed to involve FBI for the public corruption aspect. I then contacted FBI Special Agent XXXXXXXXXX about the case and we began a concurrent investigation.
  28. 28. Case Development I personally notified all Whatcom County department heads and supervisors, including Sheriff Elfo, about the findings and that an investigation had started. All expressed concern about what was alleged to be occurring and expressed clear understanding and agreement that the investigation should continue.
  29. 29. Case Development I verified that no contracts existed between any Whatcom County government function and the private monitoring outfits. Although it appeared that what had been disclosed was in fact occurring, we struggled with how best to prove it for arrest and prosecution.
  30. 30. Case Development I discussed the case at length with monitoring experts and Agent XXXXXXX. It was determined that BI’s in-house electronic records would show precisely what, if any, violations had occurred. Agent XXXXXXXX, through Seattle AUSA XXXXXXXXXX, found grounds for a Grand Jury on the matter, to subpoena BI for their in-house records to show EHM non-compliance by local subscribers.
  31. 31. Case Development “The plan” we had was that I would be pursuing local-state charges within Whatcom County and Agent XXXXXX would handle any instances of intercounty, interstate federal crimes. Agent XXXXXX acquired BI’s electronic records under GJ subpoena for a sample batch of approximately 50 subjects.
  32. 32. Case Findings Agent XXXXXXXX emailed the subpoenaed Grand Jury info and spreadsheets to my county email: from his email: With BI’s electronic records, we identified a number of specific instances of non-compliance for which provably false affidavits had been submitted through the courts, falsely certifying EHM J&S compliance.
  33. 33. Case Findings It was determined that BI had in fact notified local subscribers for every instance of monitoring non-compliance, but the notifications were disregarded, likely for the reasons the informant cited. The alerts were not reported to any authority, court or LE entity that I could identify. We now had the proof.
  34. 34. Case Examples In most instances, the inmate was handed a monitoring “box” and ankle bracelet over the counter at the place of business. Some claimed to have been given extra plastic tamperproof ankle bracelet clips. I identified instances where “the box” had never even been plugged in. Not even one time.
  35. 35. Case Examples In one clear instance I recall, a full-time (24x7) electronically monitored subject was completely unaccounted for during the entire 270 day EHM sentence! That subject’s whereabouts were literally not known for the entire period, yet a false affidavit had been filed afterwards, certifying full J&S compliance in court.
  36. 36. Case Examples Through the course of further investigation, I identified no subject that was ever physically spot-checked, in- person, for any EHM alert. Not one. It was widely known that EHM trips and alert violations would not lead to a 911 call or a physical check of the subject at the residence by any person.
  37. 37. Case Examples I learned several ways that the system had been defeated:1. Extra plastic ankle bracelet clips were being provided in order to allow the inmate to remove the ankle sensor and reinstall it without it appearing tampered with. (Indicating foreknowledge that the resultant “strap tamper” alerts from BI would be ignored.)2. Put the bracelet on a table near a lamp.3. Put the bracelet on a house pet. (Keeps the bracelet temperature close to that of normal for humans.)
  38. 38. Case Progress When we had developed the case and were preparing to move forward with a search warrant to seize local subscriber records, Agent XXXXXXX suddenly withdrew without explanation after essentially a verbal tirade directed at me in the last phone call I had with him.Note: I later learned that the agent had retired shortly after these eventstook place. There was never any follow-up with me by any other federalagency and my messages to Agent XXXXXXX went unanswered.
  39. 39. Case Progress I didn’t know then exactly what occurred or why, aside from what my supervisor told me. It was near the end of my two-year term in detectives and I was denied an extension to complete the case. I was quietly sent back to patrol division. No charges were ever filed.
  40. 40. Case Conclusions It was clear that unaccountable private EHM was occurring through complicity at some level by the PD office and likely through the prosecutor’s office as well. I was told only that the case was “embarrassing to the county” and that Sheriff Elfo “shut it down.” XXXXXXXXX took my place in detectives.
  41. 41. Case Conclusions Before Agent XXXXXX divested himself of the case, I do recall him telling me that the case had “national significance” and that XXXXXX Monitoring (and others) were providing EHM services all along western Washington, in all counties down to Oregon. I recall being told of similar problems identified in other states as well.
  42. 42. Case Conclusions It was determined that the EHM fraud allowed the subject detainee to have the appearance of having complied with court ordered detention, without any accountability or verification of actual compliance. It was determined that subject detainees had a built-in alibi through court documented, alleged monitored time at home, which could later be verified by police through court records.Police: Where were you on XXXX date and time?Suspect: I was at home on electronic monitoring. Check thecourt records.
  43. 43. Case Conclusions Instances of arrestee’s being booked into jail while wearing an ankle bracelet were identified. Instances of EHM clients being contacted away from their residence were identified. No additional charges for “Escape” or court accountability for non-compliance were ever identified.
  44. 44. Case Conclusions Persons for which significant criminal and violent history existed, who should have been ineligible by RCW, received EHM anyway. Persons were identified serving EHM for serious felony crimes. I recall at least one instance of one subject serving two concurrent felony convictions, on one EHM J&S. The courts were unaware and it was never addressed that I’m aware of.
  45. 45. Case Conclusions For a time afterwards, no one would discuss the case at all. It was as if it had never been discovered. It was like it never happened. I reasoned to myself that perhaps the FBI decided that it needed to go completely federal and Agent XXXXXX just couldn’t disclose that to me at the time. After a couple of years, it became clear that no action would ever be taken on the case.
  46. 46. Case Implications I’ve had plenty of time to evaluate what occurred in this case and awareness of several things has come to mind. There are other reasons, but this is a primary reason why Bill Elfo sought to create an atmosphere of hostility against me and sought to discredit me personally, I speculate because of his affiliation with XXXXXX XXXXX. I can prove what occurred.
  47. 47. Case Implications Approximately 2 years later, on November 29th, 2009, Maurice Clemmons murdered 4 Lakewood PD police officers. What was not widely reported is that Clemmons cut off his EHM ankle bracelet on November 25th. Clemmons was on the loose for 4 days and no notifications were ever given to LE or the courts that I could identify.
  48. 48. KPLU News Report From the article… “Martin and Armstrong also report new details about the ankle bracelet the Arkansas native was required to wear as part of his ability to post bond. According to the records, friend Darkus Allen told authorities Clemmons cut off the tracking bracelet on November 25th, telling Allen: "When they come to this door, I got something for em," (as related by Allen). No 911 call. No BOLO. No “Watch For”. No PC. No warrant. No physical checks of any kind. Completely ignored.
  49. 49. KPLU News Report Also from that article…“The Seattle Times Jonathan Martin and Ken Armstrong report PierceCounty detectives spotted Clemmons just after midnight on November29th, about seven hours before the murders at Forza Coffee Shop. Onedeputy was familiar with him, and ran a records check to see ifClemmons had any outstanding warrants. That check came up clear,according to the Times: It is yet another example — a particularlydramatic one — of how close authorities came to stopping Clemmonsbefore he acted on a pledge to kill as many police officers as he could.The Pierce County deputys check for warrants also reinforces theimportance of an accumulation of missteps by the state Department ofCorrections and others in the days leading up to Clemmons crime.”
  50. 50. ABC News ReportDecember 1, 2009 Excerpted from the article…“After the attack, Troyer said, an electronic monitoringdevice put on Clemmons by the bond company was foundto have been cut off his ankle.” Again, no 911 call. No BOLO. No “Watch For”. No PC. No warrant. No advisory whatsoever to any LE or court authority.(I haven’t been able to, but I’d like to find out if the anklemonitor was physically cut, severing the fine wiresembedded in the plastic strap, or if the tamperproof plasticjoining clip was removed.)
  51. 51. Seattle Times News Report Clemmons was out on $190,000 bail with EHM conditional release. The monitoring company admitted to receiving a “strap tamper” alert on November 25th. No one went to physically check on Clemmons. No one physically verified the monitor bracelet was actually on him. Had there been such an advisory to 911 or law enforcement, Clemmons would likely have been in custody and therefore unable to murder 4 police officers.
  52. 52. Seattle Times News Report Excerpted from the report…“The owner of Jail Sucks, John Wickert, told authorities thatthe bail-bond company did, in fact, receive a "strap tamper"signal on Nov. 25. But, according to a report describingWickerts account, an "office person" at Jail Sucks calledand spoke with Clemmons, "and they believed at the timethings were OK.“ This is a clever deception. BI’s system would have been sending “strap tamper” alerts at regular intervals for 4 days, a clear indication the ankle bracelet had been removed and Clemmons’ whereabouts were unknown.
  53. 53. Seattle Times News Report On the morning of November 29th, at 0038 hours, Pierce County Deputies Levi Redding and William Marquis spotted Clemmons in a car driving south in the 13000 block of C Street South in Tacoma. They recognized Clemmons by sight and ran his name through their in-car MDC. Clemmons was clear of all wants and warrants at that time. As a result, Clemmons was not contacted at that time, but the observation was documented in a police field information report (FIR) that was published by media sources.
  54. 54. Seattle Times News Report At about 0815 hours, 7 hours and 23 minutes later, the following officers were murdered by Clemmons.• Sgt. Mark Renninger, 39. He had 13 years of law enforcementexperience, and is survived by a wife and 3 children.• Officer Ronald Owen, 37. He had 12 years of law enforcementexperience, and is survived for his former wife and a daughter.• Officer Tina Griswold, 40. She had 14 years of law enforcementexperience, and is survived by her husband and two children.• Officer Greg Richards, 42. He had eight years of law enforcementexperience, and is survived by his wife and three children.
  55. 55. KOMO News Report The KOMO coverage of the events of that terrible day. 192.html?tab=video&c=y
  56. 56. Case Implications The tragedy and the pain of the Lakewood PD murders will not subside for a very long time. They could have likely been prevented by an alert or a notification to authorities of the EHM breach. That was one incident, from one county. There are 3,141 counties in the United States…. Take a minute to think about that.
  57. 57. Summary It was completely within Sheriff Elfo’s purview to extend my time in the detective unit to finish this case. The extension was adamantly denied. Had I been permitted to follow though on this case, even minimally, to complete the investigation and refer criminal charges, untold numbers of other crimes and acts of violence would likely have been prevented.
  58. 58. Summary XXXXXXXXXX did later attempt to find my case records, which had been stored in the IT accessible “shared drive” in a detective unit folder titled “EHM case.” The running report narrative and other records that I had been updating to that folder were gone. It’s clear to me they had to have been intentionally deleted, but no explanation was ever found or given.
  59. 59. Summary We had chosen a random batch of approximately 50 subjects, out of thousands just from Whatcom County. It would take extensive research to identify the sheer number of instances of non-compliance, but even worse, instances where crimes and other activities were committed under the built- in court documented alibi of allegedly having been “at home on electronic monitoring.”
  60. 60. Summary This is what makes Sheriff Elfo’s “corruption” memo laughable to me. I had reported this to all the correct people. FBI was even involved. Sheriff Elfo is the one that stopped the investigation! My supervisor, WCSO Staff, County Prosecutor Dave McEachran and Jail Chief Wendy Jones were also advised. Who else would I have reported it to?
  61. 61. Summary Although not directly implicated, numerous peripheral Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMG) influences were also identified. On at least two occasions, I was urged by my supervisor to delete county emails related to the Grand Jury information obtained by Agent XXXXXX. Note: It is a federal crime, against WCSO policy and against Whatcom County policy to delete government emails.
  62. 62. Summary On at least one occasion, shortly after returning to patrol, I was surreptiously called to a meeting at the former Cascade substation by XXXXXXXXXX and XXXXXXXXXX. They physically inspected and perused through the files on the patrol MDT computer I got from XXXXXXXXXXX, I believe, looking for evidence that I retained the GJ information and related EHM investigation files.
  63. 63. Summary Although some minimal changes were made following the Lakewood murders, this basic problem exists to this day and has not been corrected. ***Draft Copy*** This is what I can recall from memory. I’ll be working on researching notes, logs and other documentation related to this case to include more specific details and case subjects as time permits.
  64. 64. What The Public Thinks HappensWhen a Subject Escapes EHM…
  65. 65. This Is What Actually Happens…
  66. 66. References RCW 9.94A.734 Home detention — Conditions. KPLU News Report reveal-more-about-maurice-clemmons-investigation-police-murders ABC News Report suspect-maurice-clemmons-killed- police/story?id=9213986&page=3#.T7iWb8XNnHQ Seattle Times News Report 8m.html KOMO News Report
  67. 67. References Stay Home Monitoring Whatcom County Alternative Corrections Alternatives to Corrections incarceration/