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Prosecutor’s decision on Langley mayor, possibly facing criminal charges, nears

Langley Mayor Larry Kwarsick may know as soon as next week whether or not he will be facing criminal charges for actions he allegedly took as the city’s planning director nearly two years ago.

Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks confirmed Thursday that a secretive investigative process that began in May to evaluate whether the allegations against Kwarsick had any merit is now largely complete.

He declined to give any hints about what action his office may or may not take but he did say the public would not be kept in the dark for long.

“I’m hopeful we’ll have a decision in a week or so and it will be publicly announced,” Banks said.

Kwarsick, who has remained largely mum about the details of the allegations leveled against him, has maintained from the beginning that he does not believe he did anything wrong.

“My whole career I’ve lived on strong principles of integrity and I think I’ve honored that the whole way through,” Kwarsick said.

He did confirm, however, that he has hired an attorney.

“It’s not something I had been hoping to do but … That’s the reality,” Kwarsick said.

A former Langley planning director and the current part-time planner for Coupeville, Kwarsick was just four months into his first term as Langley mayor when he became the subject of a whistleblower complaint.

Langley’s current planning chief Jeff Arango alleged in a memo to the City Council that Kwarsick had altered previously completed planning documents for a family member’s home in early 2011 shortly after he was hired as city planner.

The City Council discussed the complaint behind closed doors in a string of special meetings before referring the issue to the prosecutor’s office for further review. That was five months ago.

According to Banks, the investigation that followed used a combination of methods to gather information, from traditional police practices to use of the special inquiry judge process.

A tool outlined under the Criminal Investigatory Act of 1971, the process can be used to compel people to testify and gather documents or non-testimonial evidence without having to acquire search warrants.

The process is overseen by a special inquiry judge and is closed to the public.

“Everything is effectively sealed while it’s going on,” Banks said.

However, a judge can open records of the proceedings later if asked. Banks said he plans to make that request once the investigative process is concluded so the public will know just what transpired.

While this could be just the start of Kwarsick’s legal troubles, the mayor said he is hopeful of a favorable decision and is eager to put this behind him. However, he said he hasn’t had any communication with Banks and has no idea how the prosecutor will proceed.

“I certainly hope for the best,” Kwarsick said.

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