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Sirens & Gavels

Letters address cop shooter’s release

Three recent letters to the editor address the case of Charles Wallace, who shot two sheriff's deputies last month after being released from jail on federal heroin charges.

Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno ordered Wallace to report to a drug rehab center in Spokane Valley on May 31. He shot shot Deputies Matt Spink and Mike Northway on June 19 after authorities said he escaped from the facility.

Imbrogno has fallen under much scrutiny - scrutiny that longtime defense lawyer Mark Vovos said is undeserved.

Wallace “faced one count that had a sentencing guideline range of 24-30 months when he was released with conditions,” Vovos wrote. Read the full letter here. (Wallace was indicted the day of the shooting on charges that carried a potential life sentence, but that wasn't filed when he was released.)

In a letter published Saturday in response to this letter from lawyer Jeffry Finer, anti-drug war activist Chuck Armsbury suggests Wallace was released from jail not to actually complete a drug rehabilitation program but to work as an informant for drug detectives.

“The deal offered Charles Wallace, most likely, was to troll for more heroin users, to be an informant and possibly avoid going to prison,” Armsbury wrote.” Wacky idea? No: About 97 percent of federal drug cases are handled by guilty pleas and agreements to cooperate. Prosecutors justify routine use of informants as necessary and won’t reveal facts the public should know.” Read the full letter here.

Imbrogno and Wallace's lawyer, Jaime Hawk, have refused to comment on the case.

An audio recording of a 10-minute hearing held 15 days before Imbrogno issued her ruling is the only public information available regarding the federal magistrate's decision. Read my story on the recording here.


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