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Former city manager files plea on felony charge

YAKIMA – A saga nearly 18 months in the making ended yesterday when Frank Sweet filed a plea to one felony charge of injury to public records. That’s according to county prosecutor Jim Hagarty, who confirmed Sweet was sentenced Monday to one day in jail and given credit for the day he served following his arrest back on Aug. 14, 2012.

Hagarty noted Sweet filed an Alford plea. Under guidelines of that plea, the defendant does not admit to a criminal act, but agrees that prosecution could likely prove the charge.

Sweet was Selah’s city administrator for about 20 years when he left in January 2012. In March of that year Sunnyside hired him as its interim city manager.

On Aug. 13, 2012 the Sunnyside City Council decided to form a committee to begin contract negotiations with Sweet to hire him as the permanent city manager.

A few hours later, Sweet was taken into custody on five charges that included shredding documents belonging to the city of Selah just before he left that city’s employ and possessing a laptop he allegedly stole from the city of Selah.

After starts and stops through the legal process, it culminated with Sweet’s plea yesterday to the single felony charge of injury to public records.

Sentencing guidelines for the charge ranged from a minimum range of 0 to 12 months and a maximum of five years.

Hagarty says the aim wasn’t to impose jail time but to make it difficult for Sweet to find future employment as a city administrator or manager.

Sunnyside terminated its arrangement with Sweet as interim city manager in February 2013, and Hagarty says that should be his last such title.

“The state was not seeking jail time, but rather wanted the felony conviction so as to prevent his future employment in a similar capacity,” Hagarty said.

He notes the matter isn’t totally wrapped up with yesterday’s plea, as Sweet will still have some restitution to pay to the city of Selah. Hagarty says that amount will be determined at a later date.

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