A former Lynnwood attorney was arrested Wednesday night after he was caught allegedly smuggling heroin to inmates in the Snohomish County Jail, according to court papers filed this morning.
Patrick J. Mullen, 63, allegedly told detectives that he’d become addicted to prescription pain killers several years ago after undergoing hip surgery. Mullen said that more recently he’d become addicted to heroin, according to a police affidavit. Mullen said that he agreed to smuggle heroin to inmates and in return he kept a portion of the drugs for his personal use.
Mullen resigned as an attorney in March in lieu of being disbarred, according to the Washington Bar Association. He was first admitted to the bar in 1976 and practiced criminal defense and civil litigation.
The bar association had learned that Mullen in 2006 had taken more than $5,000 from a client in a child custody case but failed to do any work or communicate with the client. After a year, the client fired Mullen and the lawyer agreed to pay the client back $4,190. Mullen has never repaid the client, according to the bar association.
His resignation was based on “conduct involving failure to communicate, trust account irregularities, and dishonesty.”
Despite his resignation as an attorney, Mullen continued to meet with inmates at the jail and identified himself as a lawyer, according to police. Records show that Mullen visited several inmates every five to six days from mid-May through July. Sometimes he would have back-to-back visits.
Snohomish Regional Drug Task Force detectives were tipped off in July by a confidential source who had heard that an attorney was smuggling in drugs. On Wednesday, investigators learned that Mullen was planning to return to the jail, reportedly carrying heroin.
Mullen showed up and identified himself as an attorney and filled out a visitation form. He was escorted to the visitation room to wait for his client to be brought down from the detention area. That’s when police moved in and made the arrest.
A small balloon believed filled with heroin was found in his jacket, according to the police affidavit.
Mullen explained to investigators that initially an inmate had asked him if he could bring in drugs to the jail. Mullen told police he was hesitant at first and started by bringing in chewing tobacco.
Over time, the former lawyer said he started smuggling in heroin. He said associates of the inmates would meet him and provide the drug. He said he kept some for his personal use and then would deliver the rest during attorney-client visits at the jail, the detective wrote.
Mullen told investigators that he’d also smuggled heroin to an inmate on Tuesday at the Whatcom County Jail. That inmate had been transferred from Snohomish County Jail.
Mullen was booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of introducing contraband and possession with intent to deliver. He is expected to appear this afternoon in Everett District Court.
Attorneys must provide identification to jail staff and are screened for weapons or other contraband, said Jeff Miller, a chief with the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office oversees the jail.
Sheriff’s officials said today that they don’t receive notification when an attorney is disbarred or is forced to resign. In light of yesterday’s arrest, they plan to review the process to see if there is a way to work with the bar association to get notice in the future, Miller said.