City officials discussed concerns about Tacoma Police Chief David Brame as early as two days before he fatally shot his wife and himself April 26.
E-mails obtained by The News Tribune show that the city's Human Resources director, Phil Knudsen, mentioned the Brames' messy divorce April 24 after receiving an e-mail from Tacoma Web publisher John Hathaway.
Hathaway wrote about the divorce in his April 22 online publication, The New Takhoman. He sent his e-mail at 2:11 a.m.
Hathaway, a Tacoma bartender and bowling alley manager, wrote about the divorce from the perspective of a fictional character, Paul Malone, "publisher-photographer-writer of Tacoma Confidential, keeper of the inside dirt supreme."
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The writing style is a take-off on the movie "LA Confidential," where information is "hush-hush" and "on the QT."
"According to filings and depositions that have been raining down on the court faster than bombs in Baghdad, there are accusations of requested sexual favors ... a load service weapon left within children's reach and death threats," Hathaway wrote.
He said he wrote his newsletter after someone left copies of the Brames' divorce papers in his newspaper delivery box.
Knudsen forwarded Hathaway's e-mail to Mary Brown, assistant Human Resources director.
"Guess we should be reading these," Knudsen wrote Brown in an e-mail sent 5:40 p.m. April 24, two days before Brame shot his wife, Crystal, and himself in Gig Harbor.
Knudsen said he didn't read Hathaway's e-mail when it appeared in his queue Tuesday morning. But he later heard about it. Knudsen said he told City Manager Ray Corpuz, in their monthly meeting April 24, about "ugly" rumors concerning Brame.
"I said, 'There's some nasty stuff out there about Brame,' and he (Corpuz) said, 'I know,'" Knudsen recalled.
Brown said she didn't read Hathaway's newsletter until the morning of April 25, the same day a story about the Brames' divorce appeared in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
The newspaper report contained abuse allegations mentioned in Crystal Brame's divorce paperwork.
Previously, Knudsen has said that the first he heard of the domestic violence allegations was April 25.
Asked about the discrepancy between his e-mail and his previous statements, Knudsen said he didn't consider the information in Hathaway's newsletter credible until the mainstream media published the same report.
"When the story broke publicly, I thought it needed to be dealt with by the city," he said.
Hathaway sent his e-mail to about a dozen people at City Hall, including city employees in the finance, police, public works and legal departments. Some people deleted it or thought it was fiction, others took notice.
City Attorney Robin Jenkinson, chief deputy city attorney Elizabeth Pauli and Corpuz did not receive Hathaway's publication, records show.
Hathaway also sent his April 22 e-mail to the entire City Council.
City Council members Connie Ladenburg and Kevin Phelps said they deleted Hathaway's e-mail without reading it.
"I've tried to get him to take me off his list," Phelps said.
Mayor Bill Baarsma said he had read Hathaway's e-mail by April 24 but thought it was fiction.
City Councilman Mike Lonergan heard from Hathaway and called Corpuz on the afternoon of April 25 to say he was concerned Brame might have physically abused his wife or misused his credentials to gain entry to his inlaws' gated community.
"I raised the issue (of an investigation), and pressed it a little bit," Lonergan said, recalling his conversation with Corpuz. "I just asked him, and then asked him again and said, 'Are you sure?'"
Corpuz told Lonergan and others, including the media, that he considered the Brames' divorce a private matter.
Martha Modeen: 253-597-8646
Web publisher's posting appeared April 22
Here is the Web posting as it appeared when it was published April 22 by The New Takhoman concerning the divorce of David and Crystal Brame. It appeared under the heading "Tacoma Confidential."
OVER the opening strains of "Tacoma my kind of town is," a MONTAGE: a mixture of headlines, television coverage and live action. Downtown Booming! Post Iraq War Optimism! Tacoma: America's No. 1 Wired City! But most prominent among them: ESTRANGED WIFE BUSTS CHIEF OF POLICE! T.V. reporters document crime scenes. Police cars, sirens blaring, race through Tacoma's pothole strewn streets. Where will it end?
City manager: (V.O.) Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the future of Tacoma! David A. Brame, your new Chief of Police.
Mayor: We're selling an image, gentlemen. A beautiful waterfront. Affordable housing. Trouble-free transportation. And the best police department in the world to keep it all running smoothly.
Interior: Office of Tacoma Confidential.
Lurid page one headlines cover the wall where Paul Malone types. The essence of sleaze, Malone is the publisher-photographer-writer of Tacoma Confidential, keeper of inside dirt supreme. As he continues...
Malone: (V.O.): Remember, dear readers, you heard it here first, off the record, on the Q.T. and very Confidential.
While Tacoma Police Chief Dave Brame frolics amongst the glitz and glamour of "Sin City", Las Vegas, Nevada, at Tacoma's expense, his estranged wife is trying to put her life back together. Back together from what you might ask dear readers.
What started out as an amicable divorce proceeding, filed in King County on February 24th, has turned out to be the biggest scandal this "Sin City" has seen since Commissioner Kerr got caught with his pants down on K Street more than 50 years ago. According to filings and depositions, that have been raining down on the court faster than bombs on Baghdad, there are accusations of asked for sexual favors, group encounters of threesomes and foursomes, a loaded service weapon left within the children's reach and death threats.
Further dear readers Chief Brame is not the only high ranking Tacoma Police Department official to be caught up in the latest scandal since the City Manager's wife pleaded guilty to insurance fraud. According to an informational report filed with the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, Brame and Assistant Chief Katherine Woodard gained entrance to his wife's parent's gated Gig Harbor community under "false pretenses". An e-mail to Brame has fallen on deaf ears. But according to Woodard this entire divorce is a personal issue and she's not going to talk about it. Smart woman Katherine.
In light of further details to come will Tacoma's East Side fair haired boy invoke "The Infamous Areola Blue Code" or stand up in court like a man and allow his estranged wife and children to get on with their lives. That dear reader is the question.
FADE TO T.V. TACOMA STUDIOS: Taping of "Behind the Shield" with the Chief's badge looking somewhat tarnished.