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Attorney’s victims and their animals evicted from Whidbey home
A Central Whidbey couple who say they were swindled out of tens of thousands of dollars by a Freeland attorney was evicted from their home last Friday, along with six dogs and a small herd of horses.
They are now turning to the community for help so they can continue to care for their family of misfit, aging and disabled animals.
Cari Hawkins-Williams and Darren Williams packed up what possessions they could grab, loaded their dogs into an old school bus and drove off after a deputy, a locksmith and a real estate agent showed up at their Kempton Place home to evict them.
“I can’t believe this is happening,” Hawkins-Williams said repeatedly as she scrambled to get her things. “This makes no sense.”
Jessica Drain stood by in the cold to support the couple. She is the lead victim advocate for Families and Friends of Violent Crime Victims in Skagit and Island counties.
“It’s so sad because it’s just the perfect place for them,” she said, referring to the couple and their menagerie of creatures. The home was purchased unfinished, which the couple doesn’t mind, and has fenced-in acreage for the dogs and horses to roam.
There’s a long and complicated history that led to the eviction, but it began with former Freeland attorney Peter Moote. He resigned in lieu of disbarment last year after he was accused of stealing from his clients. A detective estimated that Moote stole millions of dollars. The case was turned over to the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, but no charges have been filed.
Moote represented Hawkins-Williams after she was injured at her work when she was a trucker. She was disabled after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning, which caused her to fall and injure her back.
Moote settled two lawsuits for more than $200,000, but then pocketed almost all of the money, she claimed.
The couple fell behind in their mortgage payments. Hawkins-Williams felt she could no longer work, while her husband continued trucking. They are animals lovers and have taken in 13 unwanted horses and seven dogs. Some of the horses are over 30 years old. Several of the dogs are disabled.
The cost of keeping the animals contributed to the couple’s financial problems, but they are very reluctant to give them up for fear they will be put down. Three of the horses are still rideable and they’re willing to sell them. The horses are currently at a neighbor’s, but the couple must pay to feed them.
Hawkins-Williams said she and her husband are currently sleeping on the floor of his parents’ home in Marysville, while the dogs are outside. It’s an untenable situation that can’t last. The solution, she believes, is to find a place to rent with 10 acres of pasture.
Anyone willing to help can contact Hawkins-Williams at 360-632-6438 or through the Families and Friends of Violent Crime Victims at 360-982-2829.