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A man charged with sending a ricin-laced letter to a federal judge waived arguments today about why he should be released from jail pending charges.
Matthew R. Buquet, 38, wore shaded glasses and sported a long beard during his 2 p.m. appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno.
His attorneys, Andrea George and Amy Rubin, of the Federal Defenders of Eastern Washington and Idaho, indicated that they could argue for Buquet’s release at a later time.
“It’s too early,” George said after the hearing. Prosecutors will meet the attorneys in the next few days “which will be our first opportunity to know anything.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Aine Ahmed, who was standing in for Stephanie Van Marter, confirmed that the search warrants, which were executed earlier this month at 1818 W. First Ave., remain sealed.
Buquet, who was born in Bogota, Colombia, but was adopted and raised by parents in Michigan, is a registered sex offender from a 1998 conviction for indecent liberties, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
In the current case, Buquet is charged with one count of mailing threatening communication to U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle.
The alleged threat was made in one of the two letters seized by U.S. Postal Service authorities during routine screening at a mail facility in Spokane on May 14.
Judy Reisner wants her son, Kevin Ellison, to get mental health treatment, but he sits in the Spokane County Jail. (SRPhoto/Dan Pelle)
A former pro football player arrested for arson in June remains in solitary confinement at the Spokane County Jail, and his mother says his mental health issues will worsen without treatment.
Kevin Marcus Ellison, 25, who was a starting linebacker and defensive back for the Spokane Shock arena football team, has twice been denied release from jail for mental health treatment. His lawyer appealed U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno’s last decision, but U.S. District Court Judge Lonny Suko rejected the appeal Aug. 1, citing in part an altercation Ellison had with jailers last month.
Ellison’s mother, Judy Reisner, traveled from Los Angeles to Spokane to visit Ellison in jail on Wednesday. He’s not doing well, she said.
Watch me talk about this story with KHQ's Dave Cotton:
U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Imbrogno is no stranger to controversial rulings.
Imbrogno is the judge who released suspected cop shooter Charles R. Wallace from jail to attend drug treatment while awaiting trial on his latest heroin trafficking charges. Wallace almost immediately left the treatment program without returning to court, setting in motion the chain of events that led to Tuesday’s shootings.
It isn’t the first time Imbrogno’s pre-trial release decisions have drawn scrutiny.
Back in 2009, Imbrogno approved a temporary release for suspected drug dealer Terrence A. “T-Baby” Kinard so he could enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with his family — despite a long history of skipping out on promised court obligations. Among other things, Kinard had failed to appear for scheduled court hearings on 75 separate occasions.
And in 2010, she allowed Scott Nicholas Cassell, an accused marijuana peddler linked to a major distribution ring, to take a five-day family vacation to Disneyland in Southern California before returning to accept a plea bargain in the case.
Lawyers at the time defended Imbrogno as a tough but fair-minded judge: “She’s been on the bench long enough to know there’s reasons and people you have to take a chance on,” Spokane defense lawyer Mark Vovos said of Imbrogno back in 2010. “It depends on your background, your criminal history, your family support and things like that.”
Now, with two Spokane County sheriff’s deputies still hospitalized with gunshot wounds from a suspected heroin trafficker she let out of jail without bail, more questions are surfacing about Imbrogno’s pre-trial release rulings.
Imbrogno has not returned calls seeking comment, nor have prosecutors or the public defender assigned to Wallace’s federal case.
A 1979 cum laude graduate of Gonzaga University School of Law, Imbrogno was a 1970 honors graudate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she studied biology and chemistry. She was first appointed to the federal bench in 1991.
Unlike federal district judges who enjoy lifetime appointments, magistrates are appointed to eight-year terms. They are chosen by the district judges of the courts they serve. In Spokane, Imbrogno’s responsibilities include presiding over all initial court appearances of crime suspects, as well as bail and detention hearings.
He got his wish.
Scott Nicholas Cassell, 29, left over the weekend for Southern California, two weeks before a judge will be asked to approve a plea deal that calls for him to spend five years behind bars.
U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno granted a motion late last month for Cassell to travel to the Magic Kingdom for a week with his mother, wife and 6-year-old daughter.
Read the rest of my story here.