Prosecutors charged Pan and six other men earlier this year with running the speakeasies. While the other men have since pleaded guilty to gambling charges, prosecutors now say “Pan’s involvement is more minimal than first thought” and he was “not an organizer” at the speakeasy “as originally believed.”
Pan—founder of the Free Sheep Foundation—was the most high-profile target of the lengthy investigation into several speakeasies on Capitol Hill and in Belltown, which eventually led police to make a more than $200,000 meth and cocaine bust and to file federal charges against several people involved in the speakeasy.
Police had claimed Pan’s Free Sheep Foundation was a front for the speakeasies, and that he acted “as the ‘curator’ for the front organization to hide the illegal gambling activities,” according to court 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,’” police said in court records. Police also claiming Pan held “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.”
While police seemed sure of Pan’s involvement, he was the only defendant charged with gambling earlier this year who appeared ready to go to trial. Pan hired high-powered attorney Tim Ford—who recently represented the family of John Williams after he was gunned down by a Seattle police officer—and held several fundraising events, sponsored by The Stranger newspaper, to pay for his defense.
In preparation for trial, Pan’s attorney filed a public disclosure request with the King County prosecutor’s office, asking for staff emails which would have included details of the NCAA basketball pool at the prosecutor’s office.
While it would have been slightly embarrassing for prosecutors to have emails about their own small-scale gambling come to light during a gambling trial, the prosecutor’s office has told PubliCola the emails did not play a role in the dismissal of charges against Pan.
We’ve contacted Pan’s attorney for comment.