Crime

Sentencing delayed for Nisqually vice chairman Willie Frank

Sentencing in two theft cases has been delayed a few days for William “Willie” Thomas C. Frank III, vice chairman of the Nisqually Tribal Council and son of the late Nisqually tribal leader Billy Frank Jr.

Frank appeared Monday in Thurston County Superior Court for a sentencing on two separate cases pending from 2014. The courtroom was crowded with dozens of supporters for Frank, who faces up to 14 months in prison.

At Monday’s hearing, Judge Anne Hirsch postponed her decision until 11 a.m. Friday, citing the need for more time after hearing the defense’s arguments for leniency.

In one case, Frank is accused of taking more than $50,000 from Nisqually seafood and tobacco bank accounts.

As part of a plea deal, Frank pleaded guilty in September to one count of first-degree theft and two counts of second-degree theft. In August 2014, Frank was initially charged with three counts of first-degree theft and 12 counts of second-degree theft.

Prosecutors are recommending a 14-month sentence in this case. According to court documents, Frank made 15 unauthorized withdrawals from the two tribal bank accounts between March 7 and April 24, 2014.

In another case, Frank pleaded guilty in September to two counts of first-degree attempted theft. He was originally charged with two counts of first-degree attempted robbery after his July 2014 arrest. Prosecutors are recommending 10 1/2 months in prison, to be served at the same time as the 14-month sentence.

According to court documents, Frank was arrested after employees at two banks in west Olympia called police about a suspicious man with bandages on his face who appeared to be “casing” the banks.

No robberies took place. However, an officer located Frank’s vehicle and arrested him at a nearby parking lot, where officers found a plastic replica of a handgun. Frank told detectives he entered the banks with the intent to rob them, but stopped short of doing so because his conscience took over, according to court documents.

Steven Ungar, one of Frank’s defense attorneys, is asking the court to consider alternative sentences, such as six months of electronic home monitoring, a Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative that includes three months of treatment followed by supervision, or a combination of both.

“We appreciate the court’s cautious and deliberate approach,” Ungar told The Olympian.

In the past year, Frank has undergone treatment for drug and alcohol addiction and has since reimbursed the tribe for the money he took, according to a June 2015 essay titled “My Story with Addiction” that was sent to The Olympian. The essay notes that Frank had slipped into a dark depression and drug addiction in the time surrounding his parents’ deaths.

“I was not my parents’ son when I entered those banks in July of 2014,” the essay reads. “I was deep in debt and I needed money to buy more drugs. That’s all that mattered.”

Andy Hobbs: 360-704-6869, @andyhobbs

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