Drunk Driving Charges are Dismissed for Cash Payments - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Drunk Driving Charges are Dismissed for Cash Payments

KENNEWICK, Wash. - Police officers pulled over and arrested dozens of drunk drivers from 2004 to 2006.  They were sent to jail for the night but when the defendants had their day in court, many were able to pay their way out of trouble.   

It's all because Tyler Morris, who was working as an assistant Kennewick prosecutor, was willing to dismiss DUI cases for a steep fine.  The money was shared with defense attorney Jeff Finney and the two allegedly pocketed the cash.

KNDU discovered drunk drivers with blood alcohol levels more than double the legal limit had their cases dismissed after paying about $5,000. 

The defendants with dismissed cases were never court ordered to go through treatment before getting back on the road.

"It is probably the most egregious abuses of discretion by the prosecutor who handled the case and the defense lawyer in this case who was paying the prosecutor off.  These are the worst examples of conduct by Mr. Finney and Morris," said Kennewick City Prosecutor John Ziobro.

In a majority of the cases, Finney and Morris presented the reduced or dismissed charges in front of fill-in judges.  Judge pro-tems are less familiar with specific cases.  Investigators allege the two planned it that way.

Both defendants pled not guilty to federal charges stemming from these cases.