Tag Archives: Local

Olympia City Councilman Jim Cooper was pitchman for drug dealer’s securities fraud

Part one in a series on felony drug dealer Joe Hyer’s connections to local politicians.

Olympia City Councilman Jim Cooper enthusiastically pitched a business that was at the core of an investment scam by felony drug dealer Joe Hyer.

Joe Hyer at his 2010 sentencing for felony drug dealing. Photo from The Olympian

Fraud and illegal securities charges had already been filed against Hyer and his business, Olycentro Inc., at the time that Cooper was representing the business in the media.

Charges were filed on December 5, 2014.  Cooper was enthusiastically promoting Hyer’s business in February 2015.

Jim Cooper is currently chair of the City of Olympia’s Finance Committee.

Washington’s Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) charged Joe Hyer with fraudulently inducing people to invest in his business, Olycentro Inc. in December 2014.

Jim Cooper. From 2016 Video Voters Guide.

DFI stated that Hyer had grossly overstated the projected earnings of Olycentro to potential investors.

Hyer also withheld information about the risks associated with the business, and withheld information about his personal financial troubles that appeared to be the catalyst for the investment scam.

When Joe Hyer’s previous business, the “Alpine Experience”, shut down in March 2014, it was over $800,000 in debt.  Part of that debt was personally owed by Hyer.

Based on DFI’s findings, it appears that Hyer was selling shares of Olycentro as part of a Ponzi scheme to pay off his Alpine Experience debts.

DFI also charged Hyer with illegally offering securities without registering them.

Click here to read the charges.

Hyer did not contest DFI’s charges of securities fraud and illegal selling of securities.  He accepted a Cease and Desist Consent Order in April 2015.

Source – Washington Department of Financial Institutions, Securities Division

Cooper promoted Hyer’s Olycentro in “Thurston Talks” after fraud charges had been filed

Jim Cooper publicly promoted Hyer’s Olycentro in a February 13, 2015 article in “Thurston Talks.”‘  The article had been submitted by the “Centro”, which is part of Olycentro Inc.  Jim Cooper was the spokesman for Olycentro.

February 13, 2015 was halfway in between when fraud charges were filed against Hyer and Olycentro, and Hyer’s acceptance of the Consent Order.

In that February 13, 2015 article, Jim Cooper made no mention of the charges that had already been filed against Hyer and Olycentro. Nor did he mention all the evidence that formed the basis of DFI’s charges. His quotes were all ponies and rainbows, and happy days ahead.

I have found no statement by either Joe Hyer or Jim Cooper, acknowledging the uncontested DFI charges or the Consent Order.

RCW 19.86 is Washington’s Unfair Business Practices—Consumer Protection Act.

RCW 19.86.020 states:

Unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce are hereby declared unlawful.

Olycentro is still registered as a Washington State corporation.   Jim Cooper is listed as an officer of Olycentro on the Secretary of State’s website.

Cooper currently being sued by Washington Attorney General over campaign finances

Jim Cooper is currently being sued by the Washington Attorney General, who claims that Cooper broke campaign finance laws during his unsuccessful 2016 campaign for Thurston County Commissioner.

The Attorney General states that Jim Cooper (1) used campaign funds for personal use (2) concealed the identity of contributors to the Thurston County Democrat’s Central Committee, and (3) improperly transferred his campaign contributions to another political committee.

Joe Hyer was Cooper’s Finance Chair for that campaign.

Cooper’s position on the Olympia City Council is up for election this year.

Hyer’s criminal past –

Joe Hyer was Olympia’s Mayor Pro Tem at the time of his 2010 arrest for felony drug dealing.  He pleaded guilty.

At the time of that arrest, Hyer had recently been appointed as Thurston County Treasurer by former Democratic County Commissioners Sandra Romero, Cathy Wolfe, and Karen Valenzuela.

Although Hyer resigned from those city and county positions after his arrest, he has remained an integral part of local Democratic politics.

Neither Hyer’s felony drug dealing nor his securities fraud appears to have hurt his reputation among local Democrats, including those who are elected officials.

The Thurston County Democrats pay Hyer Family Investments LLC $2,500 per month to lease their office space.  Hyer is also paid by the party for other expenses.

Besides being Finance Chair for Jim Cooper’s 2016 campaign, Joe Hyer is a regular donor to other Democrats’ campaigns.

Jim Cooper has made no apparent attempt to distance himself from Joe Hyer.  Instead, Cooper has used Hyer’s name to promote his own political career.

Jim Cooper used Joe Hyer in his 2016 campaign advertising, as shown in this snip from Cooper’s facebook page—a year after Cooper had pitched Hyer’s Olycentro in the local media.

Source – Jim Cooper’s 2016 campaign facebook page

 

Jim Cooper and Joe Hyer worked side by side in the Democrats’ burger booth at Lakefair 2016, as show in this snip from Hyer’s facebook page.

Source – Joe Hyer’s facebook page

The Olycentro Investment Scam Timeline – 

On April 26, 2010, KIRO TV quoted Joe Hyer after his guilty plea for felony drug dealing:

I will spend the rest of my life making atonement. Good deeds you can do in the future to make up for what you did wrong, and that’s what I want to focus on now,” Hyer said.

Hyer apparently chose to atone through securities fraud.

On December 5, 2014, the Washington Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) filed charges against Joe Hyer and Olycentro Inc. for violation of RCW 21.20, the state’s Securities Act.

Under the Act’s “Fraudulent and Other Prohibited Practices,” RCW 21.20.010 states:

It is unlawful for any person, in connection with the offer, sale or purchase of any security, directly or indirectly:

(1) To employ any device, scheme, or artifice to defraud;

(2) To make any untrue statement of a material fact or to omit to state a material fact necessary in order to make the statements made, in the light of the circumstances under which they are made, not misleading; or

(3) To engage in any act, practice, or course of business which operates or would operate as a fraud or deceit upon any person.

According to DFI’s uncontested charges, Hyer created his Olycentro investment scam to help pay off the $800,000 debt he had accrued from his earlier failed venture, Alpine Experience, which shut down one week before Centro opened.

According to DFI, Olycentro investors were fraudulently induced into investing in Hyer’s new group of businesses, which included Centro and Olympia Gear Exchange at the time of these charges.

These investors weren’t told that Hyer needed money to pay off his leftover debt—or that Hyer had no valid reason to state that his new corporation would be the wild success that he claimed in his investment inducements.

DFI stated that Hyer also had no valid reason to claim that he could pay investors the large dividends he used as an inducement.

DFI reported that Hyer broke other state securities laws, as well.

On April 20, 2015, Joe Hyer and Olycentro Inc. accepted a Consent Order by the Washington Department of Financial Institutions for violating the Washington Securities Act.

By accepting this Consent Order, Hyer waived his right to a hearing or a judicial review.  He didn’t contest the charges.

Hyer’s acceptance of this Consent Order occurred almost five years to the day after he had pleaded guilty to felony drug dealing, and made his statements about his atonement through future good deeds.

None of this prevented Jim Cooper from pitching  Hyer’s Olycentro as an up-and-coming great success in Olympia’s business community, in the midst of securities fraud charges that soon after were uncontested by Hyer.

Feature image of Jim Cooper (left) and Joe Hyer (right), from Joe Hyer’s public facebook page

— by Melissa Genson, CPA/CIA

K-9 Dexter Apprehends Burglary Suspect on Yelm Hwy

From the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office K9 Unit:

At approximately 1:00 pm on January 5, an alert citizen called 911 to report a possibly burglary of a residence in the 2600 block of Yelm Hwy SE.

Two deputies arrived on scene and a male fled out the back window of the residence.

Fortunately, K9 Dexter was already on scene with his partner.

After a lengthy K9 track and multiple sightings and fence crossings, the suspect was located hiding in a garage under a pile of items.

K9 Dexter assisted in taking the suspect into custody and the suspect was booked into Thurston County Jail for Residential Burglary.

Good job, K9 Dexter!

Click here for more information about the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office K9 program.

County lied about laws that would have saved disabled vet’s home from flooding

This is Part Three of my series, “Standing with SSG Gunderson.”  

Click here to read Part One, “Disabled vet faces homelessness because Thurston County protects illegal businesses.”
Click here to read Part Two, “Thurston diverts $300,000 to save yet another illegal business that floods and pollutes.”
Click here to go to the facebook page, “Standing with SSG Gunderson.”

It has been nearly six months since disabled combat vet SSG Timm Gunderson first contacted Thurston County about health risks to his family, and damage to his home and property.

SSG Timm Gunderson
SSG Timm Gunderson

His home had become surrounded by polluted flooding.  His family was faced with homelessness. They were losing their running water, their septic system, and their propane–their sole source of heat and cooking.

Other neighbors were flooded, as well.

Gunderson and I have both had multiple  communications with county officials since then about his family’s crisis.

The flooding was apparently caused by his neighbor Sara Perkins diverting water flow off her property, which kept her her two illegal luxury horse businesses dry.

SSG Gunderson states that Perkins told him that she had blocked up the water flow on her property to protect her horse businesses.

SSG Gunderson is on a fixed income, after becoming 100% disabled from a suicide bomber attack on New Years Eve 2003.

His fixed income wasn’t enough to pay the mortgage and rent another place at the same time.

Gunderson still has stagnant water on his property from last winter’s flooding, where his property is normally dry in the summer.

He is afraid for what will happen this coming fall, when the rains return.

After four months of receiving emails and evidence from both SSG Gunderson and me, the county finally shut down the two illegal businesses.

But that didn’t help Timm Gunderson, his family, and his neighbors. They still needed the blockage removed.

County officials “brainstorm” to help the Gunderson family with ridiculous suggestions

The County Commissioners “brainstormed” to come up with ideas for SSG Timm Gunderson and his family.

The result of all their brainstorming was to refer the family to homeless services.

Other county officials offered similarly helpful advice for Gunderson’s family.  They suggested putting a port-a-potty on their flooded property to replace their septic.

The county officials advised that the teenage daughter didn’t really need to shower before going to school.  They also thought that the family didn’t need clean water for washing clothes and dishes.

And since the propane company couldn’t get through the flood to refill their tank in the dead of winter, the county suggested that Gunderson get a small portable tank and run a propane hose through the flooded water to heat their house.

An interesting idea.  Also highly dangerous and probably illegal.

But with all this helpful advice over the last six months, the county officials repeatedly stated that they were powerless to do anything about the apparent blockages on Perkins’ property that were causing the flooding. Continue reading County lied about laws that would have saved disabled vet’s home from flooding

Thurston diverts $300,000 to save yet another illegal business that floods and pollutes

Part two in a series on SSG Timm Gunderson’s battle with Thurston County.  

Click here to read part one, “Disabled Vet Faces Homelessness because Thurston County Protects Illegal Businesses.”  

Click here to read part 3, “County Lied About Laws that Would Have Saved Disabled Vet’s Home from Flooding.”

Click here to go to the facebook page, “Standing with SSG Gunderson.”

A Summary of the Background

SSG Timm Gunderson’s family has been faced with homelessness from polluted flooding since winter.  A neighbor, Sara Perkins, had blocked drainage on her property, which has been prone to flooding.

The blockage kept Perkins’ two new luxury horse businesses dry, while her neighbors’ properties were severely flooded.

Neither of these luxury businesses operated legally.  County law even prohibited both of these businesses, Equine Medical Services and Waystation Farm, from operating on the same parcel.

From equinemedservices.com
From equinemedservices.com, April 25, 2016
From waystationfarm.com, April 12, 2016
From waystationfarm.com, April 12, 2016

Before becoming permitted, a business in rural Thurston County needs to have a detailed stormwater drainage plan approved by a Hearing Examiner, showing how the business won’t harm neighbors.

SSG Gunderson’s house was surrounded by polluted water last winter –

Gunderson front steps lead into flood
Gunderson front steps lead into flood
Gunderson barn
Gunderson barn

Meanwhile, Perkins’ Waystation Farm was high and dry –perkins fb 3-29-16 (2)

County has two sets of rules, two kinds of justice

For months, Thurston County Commissioners and management refused to step in and enforce their own laws to shut down these illegal businesses that have wreaked havoc throughout their rural Rainier neighborhood.

Instead, the Commissioners suggested that Gunderson’s family seek homeless services–meanwhile allowing the two illegal businesses to continue to operate, and continue to flood out the neighborhood.

Four months after the businesses were reported, the county finally shut them down.

However, the county still won’t hold the business owner accountable for the damage caused by the blockage on her property. They won’t even make her remove the blockage.

Cliff Moore
Cliff Moore

This spring, County Manager Cliff Moore sent sarcastic and disturbing emails to Gunderson, who had continued to plead with the county to enforce their own laws to save his home.

Cliff Moore has recently taken a large pay increase to become Yakima’s new City Manager.  His salary is reported to be between $165,000-$195,000.

SSG Gunderson has a 100% disability rating from the VA, after miraculously surviving a suicide bomber in Baghdad on New Years Eve 2003.   He is currently living on Social Security Disability.

Here is Timm Gunderson’s jeep after the attack –gunderson jeep

SSG Timm Gunderson
SSG Timm Gunderson

It has now been five months since Timm Gunderson first reported the damage and health risks caused by the two illegal businesses.

The county has still taken no action requiring the owner of the illegal businesses to fix her drainage.

New county manager Ramiro Chavez continues to insist that the county is powerless to enforce their own laws in this case, even though they enforce the same laws very harshly against others.

To read a detailed report of all these events, click here.

So why is this happening, in a county that is famous for strict and punitive enforcement of extreme regulations?

Why does the county fabricate phony rules to shut down some law abiding businesses, while turning a blind eye to lawbreaking, damage and pollution by other businesses?

In short, why are there two sets of rules?  Two kinds of justice?

To understand that, you have to understand the County Commissioner’s vision for south Thurston County. Continue reading Thurston diverts $300,000 to save yet another illegal business that floods and pollutes

Disabled vet faces homelessness because Thurston County protects illegal businesses

Part one in a series on SSG Timm Gunderson’s battle with Thurston County.

Click here to read Part Two, “Thurston diverts $300,000 to save yet another illegal business that floods and pollutes.”

Click here to read part 3, “County Lied About Laws that Would Have Saved Disabled Vet’s Home from Flooding.”

That day in Baghdad

On December 31, 2003 in Baghdad, Staff Sergeant Timm Gunderson’s life changed in an instant.

An Iraqi suicide bomber pulled his vehicle within ten feet of Gunderson’s jeep.  He detonated 1,000 lbs. of explosives.

Here is SSG Gunderson’s vehicle after the blast –gunderson jeep

This was what was left of the suicide bomber’s vehicle –suicide bombers vehicle

This was the pavement underneath the bomber’s vehicle, after the blast –iraqi hole in pavement

SSG Gunderson took shrapnel to the back of his head and neck.   He also suffered traumatic brain injury, and injuries to his right shoulder and arm.

He still suffers constant headaches and painful impingement in his neck and lower back.

Timm Gunderson was medically retired in 2012 after eleven years of service as a Staff Sergeant, with a 100% disability rating from the VA.  He is now living on Social Security Disability because of his injuries.

He shares this on his facebook page:

In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.

A peaceful new life in Rainier

In July 2012, Timm Gunderson and his family settled into a comfortable farmhouse with a barn and outbuildings on five acres near Rainier.   He was getting on with his life, in spite of the injuries that he will always endure.

timm's farmhousegunderson property

They added raised beds to their carefully tended property in 2014.

gundersons' raised beds

Illegal luxury businesses cause disaster for neighborhood

Then this past winter, things began to go terribly wrong.

Gunderson and his neighbors were faced with being flooded out of their homes, because another neighbor was blocking a large culvert to divert storm water drainage off her property.

The neighbor, Sara Perkins DVM,  had recently started two luxury horse businesses on her recently acquired property at 12440 Koeppen Road.  Her parcel was prone to flooding.

Both of these luxury horse businesses were operating illegally, because neither of her businesses, Equine Medical Services and Waystation Farm, had ever gone through any county permit process at that location.

TCC 20.54.070(43)b prohibits Perkins’ two businesses, a veterinary clinic and a stable with non-medical boarding, from operating on the same parcel.

The permit process would have required a detailed storm water and drainage plan for her property.  (TCC 20.60.030(3)c.viii-ix)

TCC 20.54.040(3)a says that a proposed land use, like each of Perkins’ businesses, can’t cause substantial or undue adverse effects to neighboring community, adjacent properties, or public health, safety, and welfare.

The Gunderson family home became surrounded by stagnant, polluted water that wouldn’t recede.  Their septic system went under water and stopped working.   They were afraid to drink their well water.

And in the dead of winter, the propane truck couldn’t get to their tank because it was surrounded by water.  They had no other source of heat.

gunderson house flooded
Gunderson’s front steps lead right into flood
Gunderson front steps leading into front yard
Gunderson front steps leading into front yard
Side of house and septic
Side of house and septic
gunderson out buildings
Gunderson outbuildings
Gunderson barn
Gunderson barn
Gunderson front yard
Gunderson front yard
gunderson yarsd
Gunderson yard

Below are their raised beds after storm water flow was blocked on Sara Perkins’ property –

Gunderson family's raised beds are under this backed-up water
Gunderson family’s raised beds (shown above) under this backed-up water

 

While the Gunderson home was surrounded with water that was backed up from Perkins’ property, Sara Perkins posted facebook photos from her property, safely protected by the blockage –

perkins fb 3-29-16 (2)

Faced with homelessness, Gunderson turned to the county to enforce their own laws

SSG Timm Gunderson
SSG Timm Gunderson

Gunderson and his family were faced with homelessness, because their home was rapidly becoming uninhabitable.  Their homeowners insurance didn’t cover this kind of flooding, and they couldn’t afford to pay both their mortgage and rent for another place.

Timm Gunderson says that he talked to Sara Perkins on the phone about the flooding.  He says that she admitted that the flooding was caused by the blockage on her property, but she said that she needed to protect her horse businesses and keep them dry.

Cliff Moore
Cliff Moore

Gunderson first reported the flooding and the illegal horse businesses to the county in February.   For months, he continued reporting it to county staff, including top management and County Manager Cliff Moore.

Commissioner Sandra Romero visited Timm Gunderson’s property and saw the devastation first hand.

That’s when things became surreal for Timm Gunderson and his family.  Even with all their laws, everyone at the county, including County Manager Cliff Moore, kept insisting there was nothing they could do.

Sandra Romero
Commissioner Sandra Romero

Ironically, both Romero and Moore had been strong proponents of the controversial new Title 26, which makes every code violation a misdemeanor, punishable by 90 days in jail.

SSG Gunderson contacted me on March 10.   I immediately began communicating with County Manager Cliff Moore about the situation, and sending him evidence of the unpermitted operations.

Moore continued his same mantra with me, that there was nothing they could do about two illegal businesses that were causing neighbors to face homelessness.

The county has never denied that the flooding was caused by the blockage on Sara Perkins’ property.  They did not suggest that the blockage was accidental.

The Gunderson property is still flooded with stagnant water, even though it’s summer now.  Timm is afraid for what will happen next winter.

The county has taken no action.  Both of Sara Perkins’ businesses continue to advertise their operations.

Waystation Farm shares online photos of the recent improvements to the arena and office of the horse boarding business.  It also advertises an opening in the rehab program.

According to facebook posts, these new improvements have occurred since Timm Gunderson reported the flooding to the county.

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