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Friday, July 22, 2005 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Edmonds judge and ex-prosecutor plead guilty to federal charges

EDMONDS, Wash. — A suburban judge and a former Snohomish County deputy prosecutor pleaded guilty Friday to felony charges of hiding cash payments from private clients, federal prosecutors said.

Edmonds Municipal Judge James L. White, 49, pleaded guilty to money laundering, the U.S. Attorney's office in Seattle said.

Former prosecutor A. Mark Vanderveen, 45, of Lake Forest Park, pleaded guilty to failing to file a currency transaction report.

Both men are scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 2, but the date may change, U.S. Attorney's spokeswoman Emily Langlie said Friday.

White was appointed to the bench in 2001. Vanderveen was a deputy prosecutor in 1991-93, and sometimes heard cases in Municipal Court as a pro tem judge. Both also have worked as lawyers representing private clients charged with drug offenses.

The pleas stem from a federal drug investigation, which found that White took a backpack full of cash from a client in his private practice, knowing the $100,000 came from drug sales.

Federal prosecutors said White hid the money at his Edmonds home and spent it in various ways, including $20,000 he gave to Vanderveen to represent another man being investigated for drug offenses.

Vanderveen accepted money from White on two occasions — first in a parking lot, and then by picking up a paper bag of cash that White left for him at the Edmonds courthouse, authorities said.

Vanderveen tried to conceal the source of the money by not filing an Internal Revenue Service form required for business payments of more than $10,000, prosecutors said.

White faces up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release for the money laundering conviction.

Vanderveen's maximum punishment would be five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release, authorities said.

Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson said White notified him two weeks ago that he was resigning from the bench because of legal trouble.

The judge worked his last day in court Thursday, Haakenson told The Herald newspaper of Everett.

"He felt there was enough of a concern, or even a perception, that he felt it was best for the city and everyone concerned that he step down," Haakenson said. "He told me that he thought that something might be happening soon."

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

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