Allan Thomas attended an Aug. 27 Drainage District 5 meeting with its three new commissioners in order to help them figure out how to set their yearly budget and provide them other information. File photo by Ray Miller-Still

Allan Thomas attended an Aug. 27 Drainage District 5 meeting with its three new commissioners in order to help them figure out how to set their yearly budget and provide them other information. File photo by Ray Miller-Still

Court date set for former Enumclaw drainage district official

The Department of Justice is also looking to file additional charges against Allan and Joann Thomas.

Editor’s note: After this article was published, the court granted the Thomases and the Department of Justice a continuance of the trial date, pushing it back to May 11, 2020. The DOJ expects to file more charges. The article has been updated.

A court date has been set for Enumclaw residents Allan and Joann Thomas for allegedly stealing more than $460,000 from local taxpayers.

The couple were officially charged with mail fraud at the end of September, but a grand jury indicted the Thomases on Oct. 23, and they were arraigned on Halloween, pleading not guilty.

The indictment contains no new information, outlining how the Thomases allegedly used Allan’s position as the commissioner of Drainage District 5 — a small special purpose tax district that collects revenue from roughly 600 Enumclaw residents to maintain 18 miles of drainage ditches — to set up sham companies and keep up the pretense that ditch maintenance work was being done, when in fact taxpayer dollars were going straight into their pockets.

A jury trial is tentatively scheduled for May 11, 2020, with Western District of Washington Judge Richard A. Jones.

But another legal shadow looms over the Thomases — whether or not they violated state election law, an issue the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is still considering charges for, a spokesperson said.

Under Washington state rules, special purpose tax district elections are operated differently than city or county elections.

While most local governments run their elections through their county elections department (like King County Elections), special purpose tax districts with more than 500 residents residing in their jurisdictions can run their own elections, which includes posting in a local newspaper a notice of an election filing period and where a potential candidate can file their intent to run for a commissioner position.

But even if a special purpose tax district runs its own elections, it “must enter into an agreement with the county auditor that specifies the responsibilities of both parties” during an election, RCW 85.38.125 reads, and King County Elections’ Chief of Staff Kendall Hodson said her department has never coordinated with the Thomases for an election.

Additionally, unlike other elections, if no one files for their candidacy, special purpose tax districts are not required to hold an election — the incumbent is automatically re-elected.

This, combined with the fact that it appears many Enumclaw residents didn’t realize they had not one, but three, drainage districts in and around their city could partly explain how Thomas remained in his elected position since 1988, which was when the last election appears to have been held.

But it also appears Allan Thomas failed to properly notice his constituents of elections.

According to state law, residents of special purpose tax districts must file their intent to run for office between thirty and sixty days before a general election, which are required to be on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in February every even-numbered year; that would roughly mean the filing period is December on odd-numbered years.

To properly post notice of this filing period, Drainage District 5 would have had to publish a filing period notice in a local paper “at least seven days prior to the closing of the filing period,” RCW 85.38.120 reads.

But between 2010 and 2018, the Enumclaw Courier-Herald only found two notices regarding upcoming elections; one in February 2010, and another in July 2012; no records were available prior to 2010.

The notices read, “Notice is hereby given that Drain District 5… is seeking candidates to serve on the Board of Commissioners,” and requests any letters of interest be sent to the Thomas’ home address at Thomas Farms in Enumclaw.

So while Drainage District 5 correctly posted notices during even-numbered years, the 2010 February notice was two months too late for potential candidates to file for the election that was supposed to happen that month, and the July 2012 notice was early by roughly a year and a half, since the next election would come February 2014.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@courierherald.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.courierherald.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 500 words or less.

More in News

A King County Sheriff’s Office photo of the crawlspace in which Urbano Velazquez was hiding when a K-9 unit was used. Sound Publishing file photo
King County settles $2 million dog bite lawsuit

The county agreed to pay $100,000 after being sued after a 2016 K-9 unit arrest.

Contributed by the Society for Conservation Biology 
A map showing the locations where plants have gone extinct in the U.S. and Canada since European settlers arrived.
Study: 65 plant species have gone extinct in U.S., Canada

More than 65 species of plants have gone extinct in the U.S.… Continue reading

file photo
COVID-19 continues spreading at a breakneck pace

Every person infected with COVID appears to be passing the disease along to 1.5 people on average.

Flaming Geyser is one of the several state parks in proximity to the Plateau that you can visit for free on Jan. 1 and 18. Photo courtesy Washington State Parks
Free Park Days in 2021 start in January

The first free days are Jan. 1 and 18.

After a relatively quiet October, Enumclaw's November COVID cases are quickly rising. Screenshot courtesy King County
COVID cases on the rise

Enumclaw has topped more than 250 positive cases, many of them just from November alone.

In addition to traveling through Enumclaw and Buckley, Santa will also be at the Enumclaw Expo Center's Hometown Holiday Parade Dec. 4 - 6, in place of being a part of the normal Enumclaw holiday parade. File photo
Santa to visit Buckley, Enumclaw neighborhoods

Make sure you know when Old Saint Nick is traveling through your area Dec. 7 - 12.

Feel free to use this image, just link to www.SeniorLiving.Org
Buckley budget includes money for streets, recreation projects

Residents can look forward to work being done on River Avenue and a new athletic court.

Enumclaw's decision making tree
ESD students will not return until January

Many teachers and parents saw flaws in the plan for students to return to school after Thanksgiving, just to have them go on winter holiday a few weeks later.

Sage Viniconis is a career performing artist in King County who’s been out of work and seeking creative outlets during the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy photo/Sage Viniconis
Puget Sound artists adapt creativity, and business sense, to pandemic

Artists Sunday is an online directory that connects artists across the county, state and nation.

Most Read