A judge dropped illegal gambling charges against six Spokane residents Friday after finding they were “mere players” in latenight poker games.
By tossing out 16 of 28 felony counts, Superior Court Judge Robert Whaley gutted the state Gambling Commission’s undercover operation.
As a result, three people no longer face prosecution, including Julie Twyford, a Spokane criminal defense attorney and former candidate for judge.
Twyford, 40, received an extra bonus, because a drug charge also was dismissed.
Whaley held that the search of her purse during a February 1993 raid - allegedly yielding a small amount of cocaine - was illegal.
Since there is no evidence Twyford is a “professional gambler” as defined by state law, Whaley said the Thurston County search warrant authorizing the raid did not apply to her.
Twyford’s attorney, Phillip Wetzel, applauded the ruling.
“She’s extremely relieved,” he said. “It’s been very difficult, very stressful for her.”
Attempts to reach Twyford were unsuccessful Friday.
The dropped charges came as no surprise because Whaley indicated earlier this month that only hosts or dealers who profited from the games should face prosecution.
Friday, the judge followed through by tossing out all gambling charges against defendants Twyford, Tom Suwanmaneedang and John Sarber.
Alleged dealers who still face first-degree professional gambling charges are: Reo C. Cutler, five counts; David Bailey, one count; Douglas Roche, one count; and Michael Barthole, five counts.
A total of nine additional counts against Cutler, Bailey and Roche were dismissed.
“Given the court’s prior ruling, this wasn’t unexpected,” said Deputy Prosecutor John Grasso.
Grasso said he will huddle with state investigators to decide how to proceed with his shrunken case.
The gambling charges stem from eight after-hours games of Texas Hold ‘em, a variety of seven-card stud, held between November 1992 and February 1993.
Twyford and two others were arrested in a Feb. 20, 1993, raid at an East Eighth Avenue home.
Private gambling is legal in Washington - no matter how much money is bet - as long as no one profits from hosting or dealing the games.