Enumclaw locals Allan and Joann Thomas have officially been charged with mail fraud, having allegedly stolen hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.
The Sept. 30 announcement came via a Department of Justice press release, five months after it was first reported the Thomases were under investigation; the complaint has been filed with the U.S. District Court in Seattle.
Until recently, Allan Thomas was a commissioner for Drainage District 5, a special purpose tax district charged with maintaining approximately 18 miles of drainage ditches in east Enumclaw.
What was unusual about Thomas’ position, however, was he was a commissioner for more than 35 years, having allegedly skirted Washington state elections laws to keep his position.
However, this complaint is focusing on his and his wife’s purported mail fraud, and the FBI — which took over King County’s investigation around July — alleges the Thomases set up a phony company to steal roughly $468,000 from around 600 Enumclaw residents that reside within Drainage District 5’s boundaries.
The scheme allegedly began in 2012, when the Thomases set up a business bank account for a company called AC Services, which was supposedly doing ditch maintenance through 2017.
However, AC Services was a company set up by Allan Thomas’ son, Alexander, at the Thomas’ urging. Alexander is not being charged with a crime, and does not appear to be under investigation, but he did tell investigators he only worked two jobs clearing ditches in 2012, and didn’t do any work after.
In order to receive taxpayer money for its supposed work, AC Services would “send” a bill to Drainage District 5, which would then forward it to King County. The county would then issue the requested funds back to Drainage District 5, and the money would be deposited into AC Services’ bank account.
The money wouldn’t stay in the account for long, though; Joann, as an authorized signer of the bank account, would then withdraw the money from AC Services’ account to be used for the Thomas’ personal gain, the FBI alleges, including the operation of their dairy farm, Thomas Dairy, on state Route 410.
But once the city of Enumclaw began to take notice that no work was being done on these drainage ditches, a police investigation was opened in 2018.
Aware they were being investigated, the Thomases then allegedly created a second fraudulent business under the name City Biz and sent two more “bills” for City Biz’s work on drainage ditches to the county. Again, when the county sent money to Drainage District 5 for those bills to be paid, the money went to the Thomases, the FBI alleges.
The Thomases have denied stealing from taxpayers, and told the investigators that the money withdrawn from AC Services’ bank account were reimbursements, as the Thomases rented their son the equipment he supposedly used to maintain drainage ditches, or to help their son pay some miscellaneous bills; the Thomases claim they have paperwork that support their account.
However, the financial records appear to show the money was actually used to pay for hay for the farm, property taxes, and mortgage payments.
Mail fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.