The most serious crime in the investigation of email threats against Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant might not end up being the threats.
Seattle Fire Department firefighter Andrew Finseth has been charged with second degree identity theft — a felony — and two counts of misdemeanor cyberstalking. The King County Prosecutor’s office did not pursue a charge of felony harassment. “This charging decision is based on our independent review of the investigation materials referred to us by Seattle Police investigators,” the office said in a statement to media.
Both a felony harassment charge and a second degree identity theft charge in Washington are considered Class C felonies, punishable by up to five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
CHS reported here on Finseth’s arrest after police determined the firefighter had accessed the email account of another Seattle Fire employee to send threats targeting Sawant.
Police say Finseth claimed to have tricked City of Seattle IT into changing the password on the other employee’s account and sending the hateful messages in an attempt to get the other employee in trouble. Police say Finseth also sent emails posing as the other firefighter requesting a transfer to another fire station. Police say Finseth chose Sawant because the other employee lives in her district.
The threats are part of a trend and pattern of abuse endured by Seattle officials — especially Sawant.
CHS reported on threats made against Sawant beginning in December and the District 3 representative’s concern that SPD and the city were not taking the situation seriously even as the messages sent from a Seattle Fire city email account became more threatening.
“It’s crucial progressives, socialists, labor rank and file unite against the right wing, against sexism, racism, xenophobia,” Sawant said via social media Wednesday. “We urgently need to fight together as the working class against the billionaire class, build unionizing struggles, tax big biz and the rich to fund our needs.”
In the charging documents, police say that they were able to track Finseth to his use of the internet at his Shoreline home — and his Everett church:
Finseth was released from King County Jail and has yet to enter a plea in the case. He has been ordered not to make contact with Sawant and the Seattle Fire department employee.