King Co. Sheriff's office investigating 3 deputies in criminal probe

SEATTLE -- The FBI is assisting as the King County Sheriff's Office investigates three of its own deputies in a criminal probe that allegedly includes promoting prostitution. And the sheriff warns the criminal probe could get bigger.

At the heart of the investigation is a 49-year-old deputy who works at the sheriff's firing range in Ravensdale and his estranged wife. But Sheriff John -Urquhart refuses to confirm or deny any of the details. "This is an open investigation, it's a sensitive investigation it's an internal policy investigation, it's a criminal investigation."

A source tells KOMO 4 that the deputy who is the primary focus of the case is involved in a bitter divorce. A Seattle Times article reported allegations that deputy helped his wife work as a prostitute; checking out potential clients by running them through the county's criminal database.

The Times goes on to report that another deputy who also works at the range and a detective assigned to the Major Crimes unit allegedly tipped the first deputy off that he was under investigation. Sheriff Urquhart called The Times report inaccurate saying, "that's incorrect in some cases, in some cases significantly incorrect." But the sheriff would not say which parts of the Times report were correct or incorrect saying his office does not comment on open investigations.

The Times article did say both deputies are part of the SWAT Team and Urquhart confirmed that the investigation could expand beyond the initial three employees. But he's clearly unhappy any information was leaked saying he supports freedom of the press and the public's right to know but, "in this particular case it hinders our investigation, and that's what I'm not happy about." He says the integrity of an investigation must come first and once that is complete he would speak openly about the case.

Urquhart did confirm search warrants were served on Tuesday and that he had asked the FBI to assist on the case. The Times says it stands by its story as reported and has not heard from anyone providing details of specific factual errors. All three of the Sheriff's Office employees remain on paid administrative leave.