Arrow-right Camera
News >  Spokane

Prison Official, Wife Arrested In Drug Probe

Authorities have charged a state prisons’ official with possession of marijuana and LSD in the aftermath of a sting operation that also led to charges against a colorful leader of a local commune.

Dennis Koeppen, a Department of Corrections inmate grievance specialist who has worked for the state since 1975, and his wife, Debra, were arrested at their Tumwater home Nov. 14, police said.

Charged with two felony counts each of possession of 8 to 9 grams of pure liquid LSD and just under a pound of marijuana, the couple will be arraigned next week, police said. The LSD amounts to about 2,000 doses, law enforcement officials said.

Koeppen, who was placed on administrative leave from his $43,776-a-year job, is now the subject of an internal department investigation.

The drug bust came after a two-year investigation of Gideon Israel, a promoter of marijuana legalization and leader of the Rainbow Valley Commune.

A sting operation, in which undercover agents bought marijuana, mushrooms and LSD from Israel and others who frequent the commune, led to several arrests last week, among them Israel and Koeppen.

Israel’s 22-acre farm south of Olympia is the site of a rock concert and peace gathering. He remains in a Thurston County jail cell with bail set at $75,000.

A former member of the Love Family commune that flourished in Seattle in the 1970s, Israel was charged under a state racketeering statute as the ringleader of a drug-dealing scheme, local police said.

Koeppen, along with at least five others also arrested, is alleged to be one of Israel’s “associates,” Faust said.