Almost two years after Seattle police raided a Capitol Hill speakeasy as part of a long-running operation into underground gambling clubs and drugs, King County Prosecutors have filed charges against seven men—including a well-known Seattle artist—for their alleged participation in running the clubs.
In court records, prosecutors allege William James Donnell III, Rashaad Iman Thompson, DK Pan, James P Miller, Ian Michael McNamara, Brady Donoghue McGarry, and Howard Thoren Honeycutt managed or were employed as pitbosses, security, or poker dealers at card rooms in Capitol Hill, and in Ballard and Belltown between August 2007 and June 2009.
Additionally, police also allege that Pan, a local artist, set up the well-known Free Sheep Foundation art group as a front to raise funds for the illegal gambling operation.
Miller and Honeycutt also faces charges for allegedly selling cocaine to an undercover cop.
Police first became aware of a speakeasy—known as the Cafe (un)American—on 14th Ave on Capitol Hill in August 2007. Vice detectives set up surveillance, and an undercover detective infiltrated the group, posing as a “trust fund baby who was only interested in partying and making a quick buck,” according to charging documents filed in US District Court in 2009.
Undercover detectives, and officers from the Washington State Gambling Commission made visits to the clubs, and the investigation eventually led to a $217,000 drug bust outside of a South Lake Union restaurant, and federal charges against four other men.
According to charging documents, the Cafe (un)American changed names and moved to several locations between 2007 and 2009: at an apartment building on 10th and Pike known as The Yard or Rick’s Place; another location in Belltown known as Cafe Corsair; “Bill’s,” at two locations—on 26th and 64th NW and 92nd and 6th NW—in Ballard and Crown Hill; and in a room above the Bit Tavern on 48th and 17th in Ballard.
Police and investigators visited the card rooms and allegedly found the group was gambling more than $5,000 in a 30-day period, the maximum allowed for unlicensed gambling under state law.
At least one of the clubs, according to charging documents, was furnished with used doors, tables and chairs stored at the Pan’s Free Sheep Foundation art space on NE 50th and Roosevelt Way, the former site of the Tubs spa—which Free Sheep later turned into a massive graffiti wall.
This, according to police, was one of several ways Pan and the Free Sheep Foundation provided support for the casinos.
Pan—the “operational second in command” at the casinos, according to police records—was “to act as the ‘curator’ for the front organization designed to hide the illegal gambling activities,” Vice Sergeant Ryan Long wrote in police documents.
“In recorded conversations, monikers such as ‘Don’t Arrest Us, Incorporated’ and ‘legal front’ were jokingly considered as potential names to be used for the front organization, which was an art gallery that ultimately bore the name of ‘Free Sheep Foundation,'” Long wrote.
Police also say Pan organized “fundraiser’ art and music events under the name of this organization, which was admittedly created only to generate plausible deniability to law enforcement, should suspicion arise.”
SPD documents also say Pan “provided interviews to local independent reporters regarding the art foundation in order to give it legitimacy” and claim pan applied for sponsorship from the Allied Arts Foundation and for licensing recognition, but “never followed up with any supportive records…though he hosted numerous events which resulted in monetary gain,” including an event where he sold tickets through Brownpapertickets.org.
Pan is also currently overseeing and curating Sound Transit’s Capitol Hill light rail station art wall.
When contacted about the charges, Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray said his office would be watching to see how the charges against Pan play out before they make any sort of decision about his involvement in their project.
It does not appear Pan is facing any charges in connection with the Free Sheep Foundation’s alleged front operation.
In addition to the gambling case, prosecutors have also charged two men for selling cocaine to an undercover detective during the two-year operation.
Honeycutt allegedly offered to sell an undercover Vice detective an ounce of cocaine for $750, and told him to call him “and ask for a ‘girl,’ which would be their code for an ounce” of cocaine. Honeycutt also offered to sell the detective a half-kilo of cocaine for $12,000, and some oxycontin.
Miller allegedly sold six grams of cocaine to an undercover detective for $300 over several months.
Court documents say none of the men charged in this case have particularly extensive criminal histories.
Honeycutt has prior convictions for theft, and theft of a firearm, McGarry has convictions for trespassing, and Thompson has a conviction for attempted theft.
According to Capitol Hill Seattle, the apartment building which housed the card room police raided in June 2009 is up for sale.
All seven men are scheduled to be arraigned March 30th.