Former East Washington police chief to be sentenced today

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The former East Washington police chief who pleaded guilty to accepting money to offer protection to drug dealers who were really undercover FBI agents could face a lengthy prison term when he is sentenced today in federal court.


Donald Solomon, 57, pleaded guilty in January to three counts of extortion after investigators said he provided protection on two occasions as undercover agents conducted sales of large quantities of cocaine in September 2011. Prosecutors claimed he bragged about being “the best cop money can buy” while also using his position to purchase two Tasers for the undercover agents.


Solomon last month asked U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti to grant him a reduced sentence because the government used undercover agents to entrap him in a crime and the “drugs” used in staged deals were fake, but a document filed Tuesday by the judge indicates that isn’t likely to happen.


In a response to Solomon’s motion for downward departure on his sentencing, Conti wrote that the circumstances surrounding the case dictate he face 11 to 14 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. Solomon’s lawyer argued for him to receive 30 to 37 months in prison because the government controlled the amount of fake cocaine used in the bust. The maximum sentence he could receive is 60 years in federal prison and a $750,000 fine.


The U.S. attorney’s office on Friday filed a response to Solomon’s motion that referenced his inquiries into having an East Washington councilman murdered and his direct threats to harm his ex-girlfriend and “make her disappear.” The government also disputed Solomon’s claims that agents aggressively encouraged him to engage in protecting the fake drug deals.


U.S. Attorney David Hickton said last month at a Washington County’s Crime Victims’ Week event that he planned to be personally involved in the sentencing process and has filed a notice of appearance for the 10 a.m. sentencing.


“I will be in the courtroom when we argue for a very substantial sentence to send a message that that is not acceptable,” Hickton said at the event.


Solomon’s daughter, family friends and former colleagues have written letters to Conti vouching for his character and asking for leniency. Those documents and the evidence against Solomon will be considered by the judge in his sentencing.


Solomon has been free on bond while awaiting his sentence.


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