An investigation determined the Grant County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy appeared to violate department policies by documenting time worked for the county and at a Seattle-area company that could not have been possible, according to the Wenatchee Police Department.
Sheriff Tom Jones, who announced last week he won’t seek re-election for a fourth term as sheriff, said he will not punish Ken Jones, the chief deputy and the sheriff’s brother, for the policy violations.
Wenatchee police Capt. Edgar Reinfeld, who conducted the investigation, said he does not believe there was any intent by Ken Jones to defraud the county or the sheriff’s office.
Stevens County Prosecutor Tim Rasmussen, who also investigated, declined to prosecute Ken Jones.
“The major impediment to any prosecution is the approval of the Sheriff for this behavior and the lack of policies to prevent this from happening,” Rasmussen wrote in a letter to Grant County Prosecutor Kevin McCrae. “The involvement of the Sheriff himself in these practices explains why there were no policies preventing these practices. It is obvious that the policies and the practices of the command officers involved had a deleterious effect on the quality of the law enforcement serving the county.”
Tom Jones said he also worked at Seattle’s Finest, which provides security and traffic control to a variety of industries throughout the Seattle area, while serving as sheriff, but he does not work there anymore.
He called Rasmussen’s letter “super harsh,” and said that it attacked him, his brother and his undersheriff with personal opinions and misinformation.
“I think the attacks by Mr. Rasmussen was over the line to be brutally honest,” Tom Jones said in an interview. “And at the end of the day, it was policy violations that he tried to make it act like it was some capital crime.
“It’s super frustrating but we’ll move on from here.”
The allegations arose from Tom Jones allowing some of his full-time salaried deputies, including Ken Jones, to work part-time for Seattle’s Finest, according to Rasmussen’s letter. The letter stated they earned about $75 per hour working at Seattle’s Finest.
Tom Jones said 10 or 15 of his employees worked for Seattle’s Finest at one point or another, and 40% or 45% of his staff work secondary jobs.
He said his employees are required to make a request to him for secondary employment. He said he doesn’t track his employees’ hours at their other jobs.
Rasmussen said he was appointed as a special deputy prosecutor to look at the results of an internal affairs investigation done by the Wenatchee Police Department and determine whether criminal charges should be filed against Ken Jones.
Rasmussen said then-Grant County Prosecutor Garth Dano asked Rasmussen to investigate because Dano was the legal adviser to the sheriff’s office and he did not want to create a conflict of interest.
Rasmussen’s letter said some deputies believed the quality of work by Ken Jones, a salaried sheriff’s office employee who made $108,555.24 in 2021, on behalf of the county was low because he was working so much in Seattle.
Tom Jones said his brother’s quality of work with the sheriff’s office did not suffer as a result of working for Seattle’s Finest.
From Jan. 2, 2020 to July 24, 2021, Ken Jones worked for Seattle’s Finest for 102 days, or 965 hours, not including travel time to and from Seattle, according to Rasmussen’s letter. It’s almost a three-hour drive from Ephrata, the county seat of Grant County, to Seattle.
The letter said complaints were made to the sheriff and a letter was written by another law enforcement agency chief in the area asking Tom Jones to address the issue.
Rasmussen’s letter said Tom Jones had several closed-door meetings with some of the command staff regarding the complaints. At one of the meetings, Tom Jones is reported to have said that they needed to defend Ken Jones and to “quash anything that comes up” about it.
The inaction of Tom Jones and the lack of accountability apparently led to the resignation of three career sheriff’s office employees, Rasmussen’s letter said.
Reinfeld’s independent investigation concluded that Ken Jones failed to adequately account for his time worked, which was in violation of the policies of the sheriff’s office, in three separate instances, according to Rasmussen’s letter.
Tom Jones said his brother’s timekeeping was “sloppy” on those occasions.
For example, Ken Jones reported 10 hours worked for the sheriff’s office on March 25, 2021, according to Reinfeld’s investigation. Radio logs reflect in-service time from 6:41 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for 8.81 hours worked.
Seattle’s Finest reported Ken Jones worked from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. at a Seattle Ross store on the same date, Reinfeld wrote. With travel time of around three hours, Ken Jones would have had to leave Grant County at 1 p.m.
There is two and a half hours of overlap time that is impossible to have been worked by Ken Jones at the sheriff’s office, Reinfeld wrote.
Rasmussen wrote that Tom Jones and Undersheriff Ryan Rectenwald received Reinfeld’s report, and Rectenwald conducted a hearing in which he and Ken Jones were the only two present. The report Rectenwald produced exonerated Ken Jones in all aspects.
Rasmussen’s letter said the report does not mention that Rectenwald was a personal friend of Ken Jones and that Rectenwald also worked for Seattle’s Finest.
“The silence of the report about the close friendship between Rectenwald and Jones only serves to reinforce the belief that the Grant County report is an attempt to whitewash the situation rather than apply even minor discipline … against Chief Jones for failure to truthfully report his time,” the letter said.
Rasmussen said in his letter that his report does not try to address any misconduct of Tom Jones or other deputies with regard to their employment by Seattle’s Finest and alleged dereliction of their duties to Grant County.
The letter said policies should be changed to rebuild the confidence of the residents’ trust of the sheriff’s office administration.
“Chief Ken Jones’ casual attitude toward the truth calls into question his honesty and the Sheriff’s support of him in the face of the recommendation of the independent investigation does the same,” the letter said.
Tom Jones said the sheriff’s office is working with the county’s Human Resources Department regarding the policies Ken Jones violated to ensure incidents like these don’t happen again.
Tom Jones said the investigations had nothing to do with his decision to not seek re-election. He called it a “family decision.”
“After 30 years of law enforcement, I’m leaving on my own terms,” Tom Jones said.
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