Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Connected Seattle city worker stayed on payroll after felony

by Matt Rosenberg March 7th, 2012

In a ruling issued this week a state appeals court upheld the convictions for first-degree perjury, and gross misdemeanor counts of stalking and cyberstalking by a then-City of Seattle Parks and Recreation Department employee named Andre L. (Luis) Franklin, now 30. The case stemmed from what the appeals court ruling details as a sexually-themed online vendetta by Franklin against another city parks worker, a woman with whom he had been romantically involved.

But the story goes deeper. Although Franklin was placed on leave in late 2008 after the victim notified city personnel authorities and parks officials understood him to have admitted the cyberstalking; public records show he somehow landed another city job – as a painter for Seattle Public Utilities earning $57,464 base pay in 2009 and $63,739 gross pay in 2010. Though public records confirm he was paid for a full year’s work in 2009 as painter for SPU, Public Data Ferret has learned he did not actually begin working at SPU until December of 2009. In addition, his defense attorney Steven Witchley of Seattle confirms Franklin is currently employed in a temporary position as a solid waste inspector for SPU.

Rising star, with family ties in the Seattle parks department
Franklin had risen fast, as a Seattle Parks employee who happened to have strong family ties in the department. His sister Nicole Franklin earned $74,883 in 2010 as a senior Recreational Program Coordinator at the Rainier Community Center; she also is listed as a key contact for the department’s Youth Violence Prevention Program. Andre Franklin’s 2006 salary of $25,236 as a parks department Recreation Leader bumped to $46,352 as a Recreation Program Specialist in 2007, the same year he appeared on one local public radio news talk show to discuss gang issues and his work for the city with at-risk youth through the department’s night basketball program. He reprised the topics on the radio in 2008 and also spoke to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that year, expressing concerns about gang-related state legislation accenting targeting over prevention. That same year he led a community meeting including teen advisors, deliberating the department’s strategic plan, as reported by West Seattle Blog. His brother Ramon has also been employed by Seattle Parks, earning $48,291 in 2010 as a Recreation Leader at the Van Asselt Community Center in Southeast Seattle.

A debt dispute turns ugly
But in 2008, Franklin’s on and off three-year relationship with another parks employee named Nanette M. Fuerte, now 41, gave rise to a debt dispute which escalated badly. She worked as the Assistant Coordinator at the Van Asselt Community Center. According to the appeals court ruling, Franklin loaned Fuerte $3,000 in early October 2008 and began to pressure her for repayment even though the agreed due date of November 26 hadn’t yet passed.

Victim was targeted through sex postings on Craigslist
Then, the appeals court affirmed in its ruling this week, he created a series of sexually-oriented postings on Craigslist purporting to be from Fuerte, offering oral sex to interested parties. The postings included “two pictures of a sexual nature, one of Fuerte and one of Fuerte and Franklin,’” and resulted in a large volume of unwanted calls to her home from strangers, and related emails.

Not long afterward Franklin confronted Fuerte in a restaurant – identified in other court documents as RockSport bar and grill in West Seattle – and expressed anger she had changed her phone number. He “told her he was ‘going to let the (Seattle Parks) superintendent and (her) manager know exactly what type of person she was,” according to the appeals court ruling. Franklin later emailed Fuerte from an account named time4gamez@yahoo.com to arrange repayment of the debt.

Threats and harassment continue
Although she paid him back in cash, in person, two days later on November 10, he told her then, “do you think this is the end of it? This is just the beginning.” That same day she received from time4gamez@yahoo.com the text of an another apparent web posting in the works, insinuating her sexual availability and including her work phone number at the Van Asselt Community Center, plus the two sexually explicit pictures that had been attached to the earlier Craigslist postings. Over the following days, more threatening emails came to Fuerte from time4gamez@yahoo.com. On November 15 after she called Franklin and asked him to stop, according to the court ruling, “he told her the Craigslist postings were ‘just the tip of the iceberg’ and that she ’should start looking over (her) shoulder.’” He added that “he knew people who would ‘do dirt’ for him.”

Fuerte then began receiving more emails from strangers in response to another Craigslist sex posting. She contacted Seattle Police and the human resources division of the city personnel department, and obtained a temporary protection order from Franklin. He was put on administrative leave and – the court ruling states – admitted to then-Deputy Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams and then-Superintendent Tim Gallagher that he posted the Craigslist notices which led to the calls and emails from strangers to Fuerte.

Denial leads to perjury conviction
But in an early December court hearing for Fuerte’s permanent protection order, Franklin denied having made the postings to Craigslist. As a result, he was subsequently charged with first-degree perjury, a Class B felony. He was also charged with gross misdemeanor counts of stalking and cyberstalking. He was convicted on all charges by a jury in July of 2009 in the courtroom of King County Superior Court Judge James E. Rogers. In late July 2009 he was sentenced by Rogers to 30 days in jail, 240 hours of community service, domestic violence counseling and probation. The jail term was stayed on appeal.

New appeal planned, to state supreme court
Franklin’s attorney Witchley said he will “definitely” petition the state supreme court for the new trial unsuccessfully sought on appeal. Parks officials misunderstood remorse expressed by Franklin about the harassment of Fuerte, thinking it was a confession, Witchely added.

Franklin insists his girlfriend did it
The appeal just rejected challenged a move during the trial by Judge Rogers barring evidence that an “other suspect,” namely Franklin’s then-girlfriend Rasheena Hibbler, with whom he lived, had actually been responsible for the Craigslist notices and harassing emails to Fuerte from time4gamez@yahoo.com. She did indicate she had sent unfriendly emails before to Fuerte. And Hibbler did have access to the email account used to harass Fuerte. But the court found there was no compelling evidence she actually might have committed the acts central to the case against Franklin.

Asked if before or after hiring Franklin, Seattle Public Utilities knew of the case and convictions, an SPU spokesperson declined to comment. A parks department spokesperson said in late 2009 Franklin resigned his parks position and agreed he’d not work for the department “in the foreseeable future.” A city personnel official referred a reporter to the utility. Though its preamble states it applies to only to external new hires, not transfers, a city criminal background check policy revised in 2009 may give some clues about the prevailing attitude in City Hall toward employees with felony convictions. It says a felony conviction is not necessarily grounds for non-hiring if the candidate is being considered for a position other than in law enforcement, finance, senior leadership, or one with access to children, city customers in their homes, personal data, or in some cases, city facilities after hours.

As for Fuerte, a source familiar with the case said she suffered continuing stress as a result, and eventually left her city job.


Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the Seattle-based 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News; Donate.

2 Responses to “Connected Seattle city worker stayed on payroll after felony”

  1. [...] Another genus of open government accountability reporting starts with a germ or two of data online but requires more digging. A UW police crime log provides a one-line tipoff and with some enterprise a story develops about a hate crime reported in a campus dorm. A state appeals court ruling posted online prompts a deeper look at how a well-connected City of Seattle employee managed to stay on the public payroll even after a felony …. [...]

  2. [...] Another type of open government accountability reporting starts with a germ or two of data online but requires more digging. A UW police crime log provides a one-line tipoff and with some enterprise a story develops about a hate crime reported in a campus dorm. A state appeals court ruling posted online prompts a deeper look at how a well-connected City of Seattle employee managed to stay on the public payroll even after a felony …. [...]