By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
We know much more today about what led police to serve a “drug-related warrant” Friday night at two locations including the Corner Pocket bar in The Junction.
And we have confirmed what emerged in a comment following our story – that the state has suspended the Corner Pocket’s license for at least six months.
The Corner Pocket employee whose name is on its business license was arrested Friday night and is accused of selling heroin. Probable-cause documents from his weekend bail hearing say Seattle Police made undercover buys from him four times.
That’s what the Liquor and Cannabis Board cited when we asked about the license situation. Here’s how spokesperson Brian Smith replied to our inquiry:
LCB enforcement officers joined a Seattle PD enforcement action at the Corner Pocket. The LCB issued an emergency liquor-license suspension of the Corner Pocket for 180 days. During that time, the Board will seek permanent revocation of the license. Emergency suspensions represent an extraordinary exercise of the state’s power and the WSLCB is mandated to ensure that an emergency suspension is reasonable, justifiable and legal in every way. The Seattle PD had done controlled buys of heroin on the promises.
Though the suspect is not yet charged, we are identifying him due to those “extraordinary” circumstances of the case, with a local business closed as a result. He is 38-year-old Michael Eugene Maine.
When a tip led us to find police at the Corner Pocket on Friday night, they would say only that they were serving a “drug-related warrant” at two “coordinated” locations. The other one, northeast of Morgan Junction, is described by police as Maine’s residence. He was booked into jail on Friday night for investigation of Violation of the Uniform Controlled Substances Act, then posted bond and was released after a judge set his bail at $25,000 on Saturday.
Today, we’ve obtained the probable-cause documents that allege Maine sold heroin to an undercover officer four times, three of those at the Corner Pocket.
The documents, written by police, says that SPD “conducted an ongoing narcotics investigation” of Maine last month. We have transcribed excerpts of the documents:
Officers from the SW Precinct have received numerous complaints about the Corner Pocket bar and the owner/bartender Michael E. Maine. There have been anonymous complaints sent in through the DEA tipline stating Maine routinely deals drugs while bartending. … Per SPD records Maine has … worked at the Corner Pocket … since 2013. Maine is on the property lease, business license, but the liquor license has his name with a different date of birth … belonging to his father … who passed away in 2011.
The document goes on to detail four different “controlled buys” in which an undercover officer was given money with the intent of buying drugs. The first one happened during the week of November 7th, police allege, writing that the undercover officer went into the bar, started talking to someone, and was introduced to “‘Mikey,’ the bartender/owner of the bar, and facilitated the sale of heroin from the bartender to the (officer).” The document continues, “Maine pulled a clear baggy out of his pocket, placed it on the bar and slid it across to the (officer),” who left shortly thereafter. The substance “field-tested positive for heroin,” police say.
The second “controlled buy” described in the probable-cause document involved the same undercover officer during the week of November 14th.
The (officer) was greeted by Maine as soon as he/she was inside the Corner Pocket. The (officer) asked if he/she could get the same as last week. Maine said yes but it would be a few minutes. The (officer) waited while Maine met with another unknown white male in the back of the bar. Maine returned a few minutes later and tossed a small condiment cup with a lid to the (officer). The cup contained what appeared to be heroin. The (officer) handed Maine the pre-recorded buy money and left soon after.
Police say that substance, too, field-tested positive for heroin.
“Controlled Buy #3” is described as having happened during the week of November 21st:
The (undercover officer) again met Maine inside [the bar] but this time asked for double the amount of the previous purchases. Without hesitation Maine went to the back and soon returned with a Chinese food takeout container and handed it to the (officer, who) looked inside and there was again a small condiment container that had heroin inside. The (officer) placed the pre-recorded buy money on the counter and Maine took it and placed it in his pocket. Before the (officer) left he/she asked if (they) could call and meet with Maine. Maine said yes and (gave them his phone number).
Again in this case, police say, the substance field-tested positive for heroin. And they say “surveillance officers” were in the bar during the alleged buys.
The final “controlled buy” described in the probable-cause document happened sometime within “72 hours” before the report was written. It says that surveillance was set up at Maine’s house and a vehicle he uses was observed as being present there. The undercover officer tried to contact him via the phone number provided during “Controlled Buy #3” but it was disconnected. The officers watching his house, meantime, saw him leave and get into the car they were watching; they followed him to Jefferson Square, where they say he went into the Safeway:
After he concluded his shopping he was once again sitting in his vehicle alone. The (undercover officer) made contact with Maine at his vehicle and after a short greeting asked if he had any “black” on him. Maine produced a quantity of what appeared to be heroin and broke off a piece for the (officer). The (officer) handed Maine the pre-recorded buy money and Maine told (the officer) he had more at his house and would be there around 4 pm. The (officer) left and was followed to the SW Precinct without stopping anywhere.
The document also mentions a gunfire incident reportedbehind Maine’s home last May in which “officers recovered eight 9mm shell casings and noticed bullet damage to Maine’s vehicle.” (We checked our archives and it does not appear to have been an incident we covered.)
The King County Jail Register showed that Maine had been booked into jail on April 21st for what was listed as a “failure to appear” warrant related to a drug case. Researching that case, we traced it to an arrest in October 2015 in which police said they found heroin on him after stopping him for running a red light near the Corner Pocket. Documents we obtained from online court files show Maine pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of “solicitation to possess heroin”; the sentence was three days in jail, credit for time served. One court document shows that he acknowledged possessing heroin, saying he “discovered it at work” and believed that it “had been hidden” by a relative and that he “was attempting to prevent (the relative’s) possession or use.”
Maine is due back in court on Wednesday. Meantime, we have made a public-records request for the LCB’s emergency order suspending the Corner Pocket’s license and will report that information when we get it.