Police sergeant trades sex for police tips.

Julie Wilson
June 26, 2013

The owner of a bikini-barista stand and a 30-year veteran sheriff’s sergeant were arrested last week for conspiring to promote prostitution in Snohomish County, Washington. According to authorities, a total of seven barista stands were under investigation on suspicions of operating a prostitution ring.

The coffee stands got the attention of the local police department after customers complained of barista employees showing their private parts in exchange for tips. Along with coffee, some employees were selling sex.

Darrell L. O’Neill, a Snohomish County sheriff sergeant who was part of the investigating team, was allegedly receiving sex from the baristas, and in exchange offered them tips on how to avoid arrest for prostitution.

Deputy police chief Dan Templeton says “Sgt. O’Neill was giving the baristas information indicating when undercover operations were taking place at the stands, as well as how to avoid detection, and possibly even provided a description of undercover vehicles that were being used in the investigation.”

The owner of the barista stand, Carmela A. Panico, had been under investigation for several months. According to court records, she was arrested in July of 2011 and plead guilty to charges of misdemeanor lewd conduct. Previously, Panico was employed with Talents West, a strip club company that was shut down in 2010 for racketeering.

“In March, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office was notified by a local law enforcement agency of possible criminal activities being conducted by a Sheriff’s Office commissioned officer,” Sheriff’s spokeswoman Shari Ireton said in a statement. “Upon learning of the allegations, Sheriff’s Office administration immediately contacted Everett Police Department and requested a criminal investigation.”

Everett police called the investigation a “multijurisdictional effort to stop prostitution and lewd conduct.” Even the Federal Bureau of Investigation was involved.

After numerous customer complaints regarding barista’s exposing themselves, an investigation was launched on seven different barista stands in Everett, Edmonds and Kent, Washington, including Java Juggs and Twin Peaks espresso.

Panico’s manager, a 22-year old Shoreline woman was also arrested. Officials say it’s possible more arrests will be made in the future.

According to the police chief, detectives “observed both in-person and through on-camera surveillance not only lewd conduct but sexual activity at these stands.”

So far attempts to contact Panico and O’Neill for comment have been unsuccessful.

Following the officer’s arrest, O’Neill has been placed on paid administrative leave, however officials are planning an internal investigation on O’Neill’s involvement.

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