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Police investigate Kent City Council candidate Ken Sharp for theft of his mother's funds

Ken Sharp  - Courtesy photo
Ken Sharp
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Federal Way Police recently arrested Ken D. Sharp, a Kent City Council candidate and local business owner, for investigation of first-degree theft in connection with the transfer of $485,417.58 from his 93-year-old mother's bank account into his bank account.

Detectives submitted a probable cause document on June 25 to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office that it is believed Sharp committed first-degree theft between Nov. 3, 2008 and Aug. 25, 2011 in the cities of Federal Way and Kent, said Cathy Schrock, Federal Way Police spokeswoman, in a Monday email.

"The case has been referred to the office and a DPA (deputy prosecuting attorney) is reviewing it," said Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, in a Tuesday email. "Charges haven't been filed, the case is still under review."

Schrock said that police arrested Sharp on June 21.

"Sharp was placed under arrest in the presence of his defense attorney," she said. "He was interviewed and released on his own recognizance."

Sharp, 66, who owns Minuteman Press in Kent and served as president last year of the Kent Chamber of Commerce, didn't return phone messages from the Kent Reporter to comment about the accusations.

Sharp is one of three candidates on the Aug. 6 primary ballot running to replace Councilwoman Elizabeth Albertson, who decided not to seek re-election. The other candidates are Bailey Stober and Barbara Phillips.

Mark Prothero, a Kent defense attorney who is representing Sharp, questioned the timing of the accusations coming out just a few weeks before King County Elections mails primary ballots on July 17.

"You hear accusations from one side it sounds bad," Prothero said during a Wednesday phone interview. "But there is always at least two sides to every story. It's premature for us, given the allegations, to comment until we know more."

Prothero said his office will provide documentation to prosecutors that what Sharp had done was not with any criminal intent.

"He (Sharp) denies having done anything criminal in this matter," Prothero said. "Ken cooperated with the investigation and doesn't have anything to hide."

The accusations do not make sense to those who know Sharp, his attorney said.

"Anybody who knows Ken knows he's an outstanding man with nothing but good intentions," Prothero said. "I hope this all gets straightened out soon so it does not cause him any real damage."

Prothero said he didn't know if Sharp planned to stay in the council race or not. The top two vote-getters in August advance to the Nov. 5 general election.

Relatives of Sharp contacted Federal Way Police on April 2 about a theft complaint of money from Helen Sharp, the mother of Ken Sharp, according to the affidavit for a search warrant filed in King County Superior Court. They accused Ken Sharp of taking money from his mother after discovering few funds remained in her bank account.

Ken Sharp received power of attorney in 1995 for Helen Sharp's financial decisions with the approval of her family members. Helen Sharp had lived in her Tacoma home until moving to a Federal Way assisted-living facility in 2008 because of failing health. At that time, Helen Sharp had liquid assets of $220,000 and monthly living expenses of about $5,000 per month that Ken Sharp paid for out of Helen Sharp's bank account.

Family members told police in April that they later discovered from a reverse mortgage statement mailed to Helen Sharp that Ken Sharp had initiated a reverse mortgage loan on Helen Sharp's home in Tacoma in August 2010. Ken Sharp had told his mother a loan was needed to fix up her house.

Detectives discovered through bank records that Helen Sharp's account received a wire deposit of $263,596.08 on Aug. 19, 2010, just a week after the reverse mortgage application was completed. On that same date, $200,000 was transferred from Helen Sharp's account into Ken Sharp's account.

In fact, in 38 separate transactions, a total of $479,417.58 had been transferred out of Helen Sharp's account and into Ken Sharp's account between 2008 and 2011. Detectives later discovered an additional transfer that boosted the total to $485,417.58.

Helen Sharp signed a notarized statement on Sept. 8, 2012, where she stated:

"I, Helen Sharp, gave rights to Ken Sharp as my Power of Attorney so he could pay my bills. I did not want a reverse mortgage or any other loan on my house. I did not give Ken Sharp any money for his business or any other reason."

Detectives confirmed through an interview with the Federal Way assisted-living facility director that Helen Sharp suffers from dementia and "was not able to make good decisions or have good judgement on her own."

Schrock said detectives continue to investigate the case.

"Cases of this nature are very detailed oriented and usually take months to compile required records to satisfy the prosecutor," Schrock said.

Sharp also faces a lawsuit filed June 21 in King County District Court by Rainier Collection Services seeks $17,074.21 for unpaid rent and other damages dating to March 27 of this year, according to court documents.

Sharp said in an email Wednesday he was not aware of any lawsuit.

"I have never been served and was not aware of any lawsuit," Sharp said. "I did some checking and this is a dispute with my former landlord who I was with for 10 years. We had a difference of opinion on fees accumulated over the 10 years which came about when my lease ended and we planned to move."

Sharp said he had reached a compromise in May with his former landlord and payments are being made with a settlement of about $7,500.

"In business these things happen, " he said. "I am not sure why they filed a lawsuit but like I said, I was not even aware and an agreement has been reached."

Minuteman Press moved to its current location at 22737 72nd Ave. S. in January, Sharp said. The company's previous location was 841 Central Ave. N.

In addition to the theft arrest by Federal Way Police, Kent Police recently cited Sharp for failure to renew his vehicle registration and no proof of vehicle insurance, according to May 24 Kent Municipal Court documents. The case has since been closed after Sharp paid a $124 fine for failure to renew registration and the no proof of insurance citation was dismissed with a payment of $25 in costs, according to court officials.

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