The case against a former Tri-City nonprofit director accused of keeping proceeds from raffle ticket sales has been dismissed because a state gambling commission agent can't find the evidence in one of 13 construction company storage containers.
The containers -- which hold everything from the agent's home office, including a tape recording in the Benton County case of Holly Harris -- won't be opened until at least November.
That is when Mark Richart, a special agent for the Washington State Gambling Commission, expects construction on his home to be completed and the storage containers to be emptied.
So Deputy Prosecutor Megan Killgore said she had no option but to dismiss charges of second-degree theft and second-degree professional gambling because the evidence won't be available for at least five months and Harris has a right to a speedy trial.
The charges were dismissed without prejudice, meaning Killgore can consider re-filing the case once she gets the recording and is able to provide a copy to the defense.
Harris, 35, pleaded innocent in early April during her first appearance in Benton County Superior Court. Her lawyer then objected to the timeliness of the arraignment because the allegations stem from 2009 and 2010.
Harris was one of three directors for Sparetime Junior Boosters, which registered as a nonprofit in April 2009. The status expired a year later in April 2010, and the corporation became inactive in August that year, according to the Washington Secretary of State website.
Prosecutors alleged that Harris was responsible for the nonprofit's 50/50 raffle ticket sales between September 2009 and August 2010.
She continued to sell tickets when Sparetime Junior Boosters no longer was licensed as a nonprofit and without a license to conduct gambling, court documents stated.
Harris was given the $914 raised in March and April 2010 to deposit into the corporation's bank account, but never did that, documents said.
Seven weeks after her initial court appearance, Deputy Prosecutor Killgore asked Judge Craig Matheson to dismiss the charges because of recent developments with the evidence.
A tape recording had been made of a regular club meeting between Harris and a number of witnesses, according to Killgore's motion to dismiss.
That recording was given to Richart as part of a gambling commission investigation, and he placed the evidence into a secure container in his home office, the court document said. However, Richart's home currently is under construction and everything in his office was placed in 13 storage lockers.
The state agent doesn't know which one holds the secured evidence, and he can't access the storage containers without paying the construction company $115 per hour to unload each one until the item is found, the document said.
Killgore pointed out that she is required to turn over all evidence in the case to the defense, but since she can't do that, the state cannot proceed with the charges.
The deputy prosecutor said Richart agrees with the dismissal given the circumstances, and the Sparetime Junior Boosters was notified of her reasons for closing the case at this time.