Franklin County court administrator investigated for running illegal betting pool

Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldSeptember 10, 2013 

A Franklin County court administrator is being investigated by the state for running an illegal National Football League betting pool.

Kelly Martin, administrator for District Court Judge Jerry Roach, allegedly ran the betting pool for several years, including 2011 and 2012.

The Washington State Gambling Commission received an email complaint Aug. 29, according to spokeswoman Susan Newer.

"I was told the field office is investigating," Newer said. "How far along they are, I don't know."

Martin could not be reached by the Herald for comment Tuesday.

Franklin County Prosecutor Shawn Sant is waiting on the results of the state investigation before looking into the betting pool, he said. The gambling commission has told him the type of pool Martin allegedly was involved with is fairly common in workplaces.

"After they conclude their investigation, we're going to provide some additional education throughout the county," Sant said. "We just want to make sure everybody understands what is an allowed activity and what is illegal."

County Commission Chairman Rick Miller plans to update the other commissioners about the situation in closed session at Wednesday's meeting, he said.

Fliers and emails provided to the Herald show the "Animal Football" pool cost participants $115 to compete for the entire 2011 regular season and playoffs. They were asked to mail their entries and fee to Martin, who also used the nickname "Miss Piggy."

She accepted checks, as well as debit and credit cards, which required a $2 fee, according to a flier.

The pool offered season-long prizes of $150 up to $950, according to an email sent from Martin's personal account. Weekly $100 prizes also were offered during the regular season, increasing to $200 in the playoffs.

A $250 "sudden death" choice also was available, in which contestants picked one team each week that they didn't think would lose. The winner was the player who went the longest during the season without missing a sudden death pick.

The email sent by Martin shows a mailing list of almost 60 people. Miller, after reviewing the email, said none of them appear to be county employees.

However, Miller still has concerns about whether Martin used county-owned computers in operating the pool, he said.

Judge Roach, when asked if he knew of the gambling activity, said Martin's situation is a "personnel-related" issue.

"There are various levels of what's going on," he said.

When asked if he was concerned, Roach said "I don't respond well to open-ended questions" and asked that further questions be emailed to him.

Commissioner Brad Peck said Roach, as an elected official, would be responsible for disciplining his employees.

"The commission can set policy county-wide, but, as a matter of practice, we don't engage directly with an employee matter for people who report to other elected officials," Peck said. "If it were somebody in public works, or the planning department or facilities or something that we have direct supervision over, it would be different."

The only legal team sports gambling in the state is a game called "100 square pools," in which players are randomly assigned a square containing a possible score for a game, said Newer at the gambling commission.

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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