Heroin ring suspects associated with Charles R. Wallace, the man who shot two Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies and later killed himself after a high-speed chase, are closing in on plea deals with federal prosecutors.
Wallace, 41, was arrested in April 2012 and released a month later to attend drug rehabilitation. He left that rehab center, however, and a federal magistrate issued an arrest warrant.
Detectives were working with U.S. Marshals as they searched for Wallace on June 19, who had been indicted that day in connection with an alleged heroin trafficking ring. The deputies followed a Chevy Tahoe and another SUV driven by Robert Lee Ruth from Ruth’s property on Alcan Road.
Unsure whether Wallace – who was wearing a disguise – was in the Chevy Tahoe, drug detectives directed Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies Matt Spink and Mike Northway to stop the vehicle at Elm Road and North Newport Highway. Wallace jumped out and opened fire, seriously injuring both deputies.
The incident sparked a manhunt that ended with Wallace shooting himself in the head after a police chase.
The 17-count indictment handed down at about the same time as the shooting named Wallace, Gary E. Douglass, Samuel W. Wright, James C. Lindsay, Frisco S. Ayala and Brian L. Sellers as co-conspirators in an alleged heroin distribution ring.
On Monday, Sellers, 36, pleaded guilty to three charges, including possession with intent to distribute heroin, after he was arrested on May 11, 2011, during a road-rage incident and was found to have 84 grams of heroin in his car.
Sellers agreed to plead guilty in a deal that will recommend that he spend eight years in federal prison. U.S. District Court Judge Rosanna Peterson set Sellers’ sentencing for June 18.
Douglass, 58, agreed to plead guilty to one count of using a telephone to set up a drug deal, and attorneys have agreed to recommend Peterson sentence him to four years in federal prison on the same day.
Lindsay, also 58, has reached a deal to plead guilty but his attorney, John Perry, said his client needs some time to study the deal. Peterson granted a delay until April 1.
Attorneys Frank Cikutovich and Mark Casey said their clients, Ayala and Wright, both are very close to deals to have them plead guilty. Both attorneys, however, were objecting to Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Duggan’s attempt to designate both men as career offenders, which could put them in prison for life.
“If the government decides to call my client a career offender, we will never see him again,” Cikutovich said.
Cikutovich later said he’s hoping to get a 10-year deal for the 33-year-old Ayala.
Casey said his 37-year-old client, Samuel Wright, has agreed to plead to a minimum of five years in federal prison but that “the government is not prepared to offer that.” Judge Peterson set a pre-trial hearing for April 16.
Peter Schweda, who represented Douglass, described the alleged operation as “a hub-and-spoke conspiracy. Wallace was the hub and all the other defendants were the spokes.”
Schweda added, “Once Wallace was out of the picture, it was beneficial to the other defendants.”