August 25, 2014 in City

County prosecutor allegedly aided wanted felon

Marriya Wright has been on leave since April 21
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Washington Department of Corrections photo

Matthew Baumrucker, 31, faces a felon in possession of a firearm charge. Investigators say he carried on a relationship with Spokane County deputy prosecutor Marriya Wright.
(Full-size photo)

A Spokane County criminal prosecutor is under investigation after allegedly aiding a wanted felon avoid police capture earlier this year.

Marriya Wright, 34, has been on paid administrative leave from the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office since April 21. That’s the same day investigators filed a search warrant for the Spokane County Jail cell of Matthew Baumrucker, 31, who now faces a federal indictment for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

According to court documents unsealed last week, Baumrucker texted a phone traced to Wright 1,280 times between Feb. 6 and March 5, when authorities were attempting to apprehend him on a warrant for drug charges. He was arrested eight days later at a motel in Spokane Valley, according to court records, and booked into jail after Spokane County Sheriff’s deputies found a pistol on an air conditioner outside the room he was sharing with another woman.

Baumrucker is a six-time convicted felon, including charges of perjury, assault and money laundering, according to court records.

A witness told investigators a woman she knew as “Marriya” picked up Baumrucker at a gas station in her red SUV a little more than a week before his arrest, when he was still wanted by police. The witness said Baumrucker assured them a county prosecutor named Marriya would be able to help him if he got into trouble with law enforcement, according to court documents.

The woman drove Baumrucker and the witness to a trailer in Spokane Valley, according to court documents. The vehicle the woman drove was observed on surveillance video at a gas station, and appeared to be a red SUV with a license plate registered to Wright, according to court documents. At no point during the drive did Wright attempt to contact police about Baumrucker, the witness told investigators. The phone number Baumrucker sent texts to, also linked to Wright, had been used in the past to notify police of crimes, according to court documents.

After he was booked into jail, Wright visited Baumrucker 10 times between March 13 and April 16, marking the purpose of her visit as “professional,” according to jail records. This allowed her to use a special meeting room where visitors can pass documents to inmates, according to court documents.

A jail guard who viewed video of the pair’s discussions said Baumrucker made no attempt to take notes during their consultations. Wright was also not the prosecutor assigned to Baumrucker’s case, according to court documents.

The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment on the case in an email, citing the ongoing investigation.

The guard reported seeing a photograph of Wright in a bikini in Baumrucker’s possession, an observation he reported as odd, according to court documents.

No charges have been filed against Wright. The search warrant detailing the allegations was placed under seal with an expiration date of Thursday, unless a motion was filed to unseal it sooner. Wright is a criminal deputy prosecutor in the Spokane office, according to the search warrant affidavit.

Denis Tracy, prosecuting attorney for Whitman County, was called in to handle the state case against Baumrucker in late April, he said Monday. Pending charges will likely be filed in federal court, he said.

“My expectation is that the U.S. Attorney’s office will be handling the prosecution of all the matters related to Mr. Baumrucker and Ms. Wright,” Tracy said Monday.

Wright was involved in dropping the charges of an alleged violent offender with ties to the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang in May 2013, in lieu of releasing internal investigative documents about a Spokane police officer who was on leave at the time. That officer, Darrell Quarles, was himself implicated in an inappropriate relationship with a suspected criminal.

Wright has continued to receive pay while on administrative leave per the collective bargaining agreement between the prosecutor’s office and the county. County spokeswoman Martha Lou Wheatley-Billeter said Monday that Wright’s employment status has not changed since being placed on administrative leave in late April.

Baumrucker’s firearms case has earned him an indictment in federal court, and county prosecutors are no longer handling the case.

Though no criminal charges have been filed against Wright, the search warrant affidavit lists a potential charge of first-degree rendering criminal assistance. That offense is a felony charge with a potential maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $20,000.

This story is developing and will be updated with more information as it is available.


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