Pin It

Out with a Whimper 

by JACOB H. FRIES & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & he press release gave no clue; just said reporters were invited to come to the Federal Courthouse last Friday to hear about the "year-long investigation into the River Park Square development project." It was intriguing for its lack of details, and the local media turned out in force.

It had been 10 years since the RPS scandal exploded in suspicion and intrigue. At the center has always been the complex and unusual financing of the mall's parking garage, developed by the Cowles family, which also owns the Spokesman-Review. The deal ultimately spawned countless lawsuits and perhaps even more conspiracy theories.

The Justice Department only took up the case last year after a former city councilwoman and journalist Tim Connor lugged boxes of documents to Jim McDevitt, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington, who recused himself because he had worked for a firm that worked on one of the bonds.

At Friday's press conference, Connor sat in the front row, a few chairs from Larry Shook, who works with Connor at Camas Magazine where, for years, they've investigated and written about the RPS deal. The rest of the room was filled with TV and print journalists as well as Ron Wright, a retired police detective who writes to local reporters under the name "rocketsbrain."

Robert Westinghouse, criminal chief for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Western Washington, stood at the lectern in a striped bowtie and began, "Good morning and thank you for coming."

He then methodically went point by point and said senior prosecutors had found no evidence of fraud; nothing untoward in McDevitt's behavior; and no criminal wrongdoing in the mall development. He noted that in the passage of time, memories had faded and documents had been destroyed as part of "routine practice" -- further complicating their investigation.

"Were there problems? Absolutely. Were there mistakes? Undoubtedly. But not every mistake, not every problem, warrants criminal action."

Westinghouse said prosecutors also looked at the 2006 death of Jo Ellen Savage -- her car struck a garage wall and fell from the fifth floor to the ramp below, killing her -- but they found no federal violations and referred it to county prosecutors.

Westinghouse concluded: "There will be no further federal involvement. We are satisfied that the public interest has been served."

Connor quickly asked Westinghouse if errors were found in an Internal Revenue Service report from 2004. The prosecutor declined: "I'm not prepared to discuss individual findings. I'm not prepared to discuss particular facts."

Shook then pressed him about what questions were put to McDevitt during the investigation. Again, Westinghouse: "I'm not going to get into specific details."

Shook inquired about who they talked to and Westinghouse said he would not reveal the names of those interviewed. Would any documents from the investigation be released?

"We do not make work product available ... because it would be unfair to all those involved," he said, adding, "You can assume that we took all reasonable steps to explore and to satisfy ourselves that there was no criminal wrongdoing."

Unsatisfied, reporters chased Westinghouse into the hall after the press conference. An aide shouted at the reporters pursuing the prosecutor: "He won't be taking any more questions."

[email protected]

Tags: ,

  • Pin It

Speaking of Rps

  • The Decade When Spokane Grew Up (Again)
  • The Decade When Spokane Grew Up (Again)

    Cleaning up the park in the ’70s was great, but Spokane finally became a real city in the 2000s
    • Jan 20, 2010
  • Spokane's To-Do List

    by ROBERT HEROLD & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & O & lt;/span & ur campaigns, all of them, have been low on octane, which may not be a good thing. It does seem that the deep and wide political fault lines which opened across our city landscape eight years ago may b
    • Oct 31, 2007
  • Spokane Politics - An Alternative Theory

    By ROBERT HEROLD & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & O & lt;/span & ver the past several weeks, The Inlander has printed several well-written columns and articles delving into the mysteries of politics in Spokane. Former Mayor Jack Geraghty, who was interviewed, sees t
    • Oct 24, 2007
  • More »

Latest in Comment

  • Growing Pains
  • Growing Pains

    When the only constant is change itself, we'd best saddle up and make the most of it
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Access for Sale?
  • Access for Sale?

    Trail Mix: Clinton's shaky Foundation, Trump's questionable staffers
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Why I'm With Her
  • Why I'm With Her

    Ignore the chants: Hillary Clinton has earned America's trust from her life of public service
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue
Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion

Bodies Human: Anatomy in Motion @ Mobius Science Center

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through Dec. 31

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • 'Unreasonable Threat to Life and Property'

    Spokane's rental housing has problems, but landlord and tenant groups are split on a solution
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • 'End of Story'

    Condon administration aims to close the controversial Frank Straub chapter — but last week's scathing report has irrevocably changed the narrative
    • Aug 4, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment


election 2016

green zone


trail mix

Readers also liked…

  • A Persistent Life
  • A Persistent Life

    Scott Reed won more cases than he lost in life, and the beauty of the Coeur d'Alene area has been the beneficiary
    • May 27, 2015
  • Say 'No' to Fear
  • Say 'No' to Fear

    Why Spokane ought to embrace its roots as an immigrant-friendly place
    • Jan 21, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation