Former Kitsap Transit attorney guilty of theft

"Former Kitsap Transit attorney Richard Stocking avoided further jail time by pleading guilty to second-degree theft April 3 in Pierce County Superior Court for misappropriating $166,000 of the public agency's funds.Instead, a 30-day jail sentence was converted to 240 hours of community service to be served over the next year, in exchange for the plea, according to Pierce County deputy prosecutor Steve Gregorich. Stocking is also expected to pay more than $600 in court fines, and was ordered to continue paying Kitsap Transit restitution, Gregorich said.As of last month, Stocking still owes Kitsap Transit nearly $69,000 in restitution costs and interest, but has kept up with the repayment schedule established with the agency in March 2000.Our main priority has always been to ensure the money is returned, said Jim Lundstrom, Kitsap Transit's finance director, when he heard the news of Stocking's sentencing.Tacoma attorney Monte Hester, representing Stocking, said he would have liked to try the case in court because he believes his client would have been completely vindicated.The problem is, doctors say Stocking suffers from Post-Traumatic-Stress Disorder, which is directly attributable to his experiences in the Navy while serving on a river in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam and, later, to the voluntary time he spent in the Philippines during Operation Desert Storm. Hester says doctors discovered Stocking suppressed the disease for decades after Vietnam, but his stint during Desert Storm inflamed the problem.And to relive those episodes in court could be detrimental to Stocking's continued progress and could, in fact, reverse progress already made, doctors advised.While serving at Desert Storm, Stocking's law firm slipped $130,000 into debt, and he later filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. When he arrived home, Stocking's condition only worsened and he embarked on self-destructive behavior, Hester said. Friends and colleagues could see a marked difference in the man they knew before he left for Desert Storm, documents show.Then a January 1999 Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) audit of Stocking's accounts uncovered a startling fact that blindsided Kitsap Transit officials and spurred the suspension of Stocking's license to practice law and, later, criminal charges.Kitsap Transit set aside in October 1998 exactly $250,000 in a trust account so Stocking could purchase a piece of South Kitsap property on the agency's behalf for a future park-and-ride development near the Southworth ferry terminal.The WSBA audit showed that Stocking issued several draws on the account, draining the balance to $84,000 before the sale on the property was closed. WSBA officers representing the association's disciplinary council immediately informed Kitsap Transit officials about the balance shortage and, as a result, Stocking's license to practice law was suspended and a repayment schedule established.Meanwhile, the WSBA stayed any disciplinary action against Stocking while the criminal case was pending in Pierce County Superior Court. WSBA spokeswoman Judith Berrett said that, as soon as the courts forward paperwork detailing the outcome of the criminal investigation and court action, the disciplinary board can move forward on a professional inquiry.Appeals can be filed at any point in the process, unless the Supreme Court of Washington State ultimately rules Stocking should be disbarred or revokes his license. Decisions from the Supreme Court are final.Stocking has petitioned the WSBA for a suspension of his license under disability, according to Hester. "

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