Sunnyside Interim City manager Frank Sweet arrested on theft charges

Sunnyside Interim City manager Frank Sweet arrested on theft charges »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- KIMA learned Sunnyside's Interim City Manager and former Selah City Supervisor Frank Sweet was booked into the Yakima County Jail early Tuesday morning on theft charges.

Sweet is accused of stealing a city of Selah computer and hard drive, as well as destroying and moving public documents during his last week as Selah City Supervisor, a position he held for nearly 20 years.

According to court documents, on Sweet's last day in office in Selah, he requested an outside computer technician to "clean up" his city-owned work computer by removing anything with his name on it.

Investigators say Selah Mayor John Gawlik reported Sweet returned all known city-owned property issued to him except for a computer and external hard drive. Gawlik said the city's property was nowhere to be found.

Sweet allegedly told Selah Attorney Bob Noe that the laptop and external hard drive disappeared from his office in December.

Detectives say Selah Executive Assistant Monica Lake provided a statement that Sweet shredded or recycled almost all of the paperwork in his office during the last week on the job. She also alleged all of Sweet's Outlook contacts were missing from his computer.

According to court documents, an investigation into the destruction of public records found 154 files, had been deleted or moved by user "fsweet."

Detectives say those files appear to be related to official city of Selah business.

A search warrant was served to Sweet at his home on August 13th. Court documents reveal investigators recovered the missing laptop computer and external hard drive owned by the city of Selah.

Detectives say they also found “numerous” piles of Selah public records and site plans.

Investigators say Sweet originally claimed ownership of the devices, but later admitted that former Selah Mayor Bob Jones had given him the electronics.

Sweet denied destroying any records at Selah City Hall, but court documents show he did admit to deleting emails and transferring some of the emails to his external hard drive.

Sweet faces two possession of stolen property charges, two theft charges and an injure/take public records charge.

The arrest comes on the heels of Sunnyside city leaders seeking to permanently hire Sweet for the city manager position.

Sunnyside offered Sweet the interim city manager position in March and the news of Sweet's arrest came as a surprise to council members.

KIMA asked Sunnyside's Mayor, "Will his arrest impact offering him the permanent city manager position?"

"I couldn't answer that until after I know what happened," said Sunnyside Mayor Mike Farmer.

"So you guys don't know what happened at all?" KIMA asked.

"I have some ideas but I don't know the specifics," Farmer said.

Sweet served as the City Supervisor for Selah for nearly 20 years.

He was put on paid administrative leave within a week of Selah Mayor John Gawlik taking office, and eventually reached a severance agreement with the city.

Selah city leaders said little about Sweet's arrest, other than stressing the importance of protecting public records.

Sweet was released on his on recognizance Tuesday following a court appearance. Prosecutors have until Thursday to formally file charges.

Sunnyside said it opened its own investigation into the arrest of their interim city manager.

Sweet will appear back in court later this month.