Contractor pleads guilty in King County drainage district corruption case

A Renton contractor who conspired with the longtime commissioner of King County Drainage District 5 admitted to lying to the FBI and United States Attorneys.

SEATTLE — A Renton contractor entered a “guilty” plea in federal court on Wednesday, marking the first conviction in an alleged corruption case the KING 5 Investigators first reported on 17 months ago.

Darrell N. Winston, who ran a small company called City Biz, admitted he lied to FBI investigators and the United States Attorney’s Office on multiple occasions as they investigated the reported theft of hundreds of thousands of tax dollars by the longtime commissioner of King County Drainage District 5 in Enumclaw.

According to court documents, Winston created two separate invoices that he submitted to King County government in 2018 claiming that he performed maintenance work on parts of the 18 miles of storm drains that comprise Drainage District 18.

The invoices were approved by longtime Drainage District Commissioner Allan “Benny” Thomas, so the county paid Winston $53,754 for the trench work.

FBI investigators later determined Winston hadn’t done the work and he funneled most of the money back to commissioner Thomas and his wife, JoAnn.

2 Defendant hereby waives all objections to the form of the charging document. Defendant 3 further understands that, before entering any guilty plea, Defendant will be placed under 4 oath. Any statement given by Defendant under oath may be used by the United States in 5 a prosecution for perjury or false statement.

In the summer of 2019 Winston told the KING 5 Investigators he had done the work and the invoices were legitimate.

A few months later he told the FBI the same thing, but agents were able to determine that he deposited the money and took out large cashier’s checks that he

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Conroe moves forward with $320K drainage study

The city of Conroe is moving forward with a study of Alligator Creek to determine the next steps on improving the drainage on the waterway that winds through downtown Conroe.

On Thursday, the council approved a $320,265 contract with Conroe-based Halff Associates Inc. to create a master drainage plan, focused on Alligator Creek, with the goal to provide prioritized needs and improvements and to help facilitate grant funding that is available.

“With this plan, we can apply for grant fund that we could not before because we did not have a master plan,” said Tommy Woolley, director of capital improvements and transportation.

According to information provided by Halff officials to the city, the plan will focus on projects to reduce the flood risk for all major watersheds within the city limits, specifically Alligator Creek. The other watersheds included will be West Fork of the San Jacinto River, White Oak Creek, Live Oak Branch, Grand Lake Creek, Silverdale Creek, Stewarts Creek and Little Caney Creek.

The study will be divided into six tasks, project management, watershed review, flood risk evaluation, recommendations, implementation strategy and documentation.

According to a 2008 study by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Conroe area is subject to tropical storms and rainfall over extended time periods is not uncommon for the area. Historically, Stewarts and Alligator Creeks have been the major threats to flooding.

The study is expected to take about a year to complete.

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