Crime

Ex-Pasco cop sentenced to 10 days for lying, obstructing investigation

Tri-City Herald file

A former Pasco police officer convicted of lying to co-workers during a 2013 bomb threat investigation has 35 days to post a $500 appeal bond or report to jail for a 10-day sentence.

If Zachary J. Fairley pays the bond and files a notice of appeal, he can remain free while trying to get his Franklin County District Court jury verdicts tossed out. An appeal could take a couple of years.

On Wednesday, Judge Jerry Roach ordered Fairley to serve five days on each of the four counts, then made two of the counts run at the same time with the other two.

Fairley, who was fired from the department in May 2014, faced up to one year in the Franklin County jail.

A jury in July convicted the Pasco man of obstructing a law enforcement officer and three counts of making false or misleading statements to police. He was acquitted of patronizing a prostitute.

Deputy Prosecutor Brian Hultgrenn recommended 30 days “because he was lying about a bomb threat investigation, as opposed to just giving a false name or something like that.”

Hultgrenn also noted that because Fairley was a police officer, he “played a part in eroding public trust.”

Defense attorney Etoy Alford Jr. of Yakima asked for no jail time and a deferred sentence, which would have allowed Fairley to get the case dismissed after one year if he didn’t violate any laws or conditions.

Roach did not grant that request, but he allowed Fairley to stay out of jail if he can post the bond and file his appeal. Otherwise, Fairley must turn himself in to serve his sentence.

Fairley was a sergeant with the Pasco Police Department in early 2013 before being demoted. He says that while he was sergeant, he selected online prostitution as an issue for his shift crew to tackle.

Then in July 2013, Steven E. Brown called in several fake bomb threats to avoid taking a placement test at Columbia Basin College in Pasco.

Police tracked down the phone number used to make one of the calls and, in reviewing the records, discovered that Fairley’s number was on the cellphone.

Brown’s daughter reportedly used the phone — hours before the threats were called in — to post ads on a section of backpage.com, a website often used for prostitution. There were 17 text messages between that phone and Fairley’s cellphone.

Investigators concluded Fairley lied several times to cover up his contact with a suspected prostitute.

However, Fairley told the Herald that he did nothing but tell the truth during the police investigation and said the criminal case stemmed from retaliation and corruption. He was never suspected of any wrongdoing related to the bomb threats.

Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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