It didn't take long, once justice got up on its feet. In the end, not even Warren Buffett could change Mike Webb's legal destiny.
In a bench trial before Judge Julie Spector, the former talk host and liberal KIRO night time personality finally got a verdict and sentencing for his bungling, nearly transparent attempt to defraud Geico Insurance into paying for a car accident he'd
had with an uninsured driver before he bought a policy.
Prosecutor Nancy Balin called it an "attempted theft." Judge Spector said, said the evidence clearly showed that Webb "blatantly and with arrogance" defrauded the insurance company.
This time, both parties agreed to a "stipulated trial, with the facts of the case presented in the original trial, and heard by Judge Spector and considered without a jury or re-calling witnesses.
The prosecutor and the defense attorney, Mark Larranaga each made a statement and brief rebuttals; the judge made her judgment shortly thereafter.
Her verdict: guilty as charged. "Only one person made things difficult for Mr. Webb," she said, "and that it was Mr. Webb."
She found Webb's credibility, "totally lacking," and went through a laundry list- a "continuum of falsification," of bank records and lies told investigators by "no other than Mr. Webb."
Webb, 51, finally humbled, stood at the bench before the court with his attorney, as his mental health and his future was discussed. After the mistrial, he'd been ordered into 30 days of mental health inpatient treatment.
(Famously touchy about having his picture taken- in the first trial, Webb ran out of the courtroom when he saw a Seattle Times photographer aiming a lens at him. Today he didn't freak as a P-I photog sat in the jury box snapping frontals).
Balin asked for 60 days jail time with half in community service and the rest in home detention or custody; plus fines and restitution. Standard sentencing is 0-365 days in jail with a 5-year max).
Larranaga told the court that Webb's clean criminal record and that
since the crime wasn't all that serious, he should get no jail time. He
also lauded Webb's promulgation of "political, social awareness,
community awareness," while on the radio. That opportunity, he said-
and his very livelihood were finished- even though, he admitted, much
of that is "due to his own actions."
( Mike was never involved in the community, if he had Larranaga would have trotted out the specifics. As for political activism, local progressives don't know him...)
Balin noted that it was indeed a serious crime- a felony; and his actions were willful and deliberate as hell.
The judge then asked Webb if he wanted to address the court before she sentenced him.
He, of course did, and speaking in an uncharacteristically soft voice, he said he was, "Mystified and overwhelmed. I didn't do it!"
Webb acknowledged that he is "guilty of arrogance," but implied if he were to do fraud, he would have done it better. "I can add," he said. (This was in reference to the bad job his novice forger did falsifying bank documents that he stupidly gave Geico and the cops. Balin showed that the columns didn't add up, the type was all hinky, and the fonts were wrong and mismatched).
Web repeated his claims (never argued court by his attorney) that someone- a kid, a blogger (guess who!) who "had it out for me, interrupted my Internet" and framed him. "It's the elephant in the room," he said, "The bloggers scoff at it, but no one has ever addressed it in court."
In a lighter moment and one that pointed up how truly bizarre and out of touch Webb is was when Balin read a letter that Webb wrote tWarren Buffett who is the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway of which GEICO is a subsidiary. He complained to the Omaha billionaire that his life has been "turned upside down" because of all the Geico employees who testified against him. Prevailing upon Buffett for we're not sure what, he wrote, "I've never asked for or received a dime from Geico."
Judge Spector, unmoved, gave Webb two days credit for time already spent in jail, then sentenced him to 30 days with the time to be served in community service in a non-profit such as the Food Bank.
He was fined $1000; assigned the day;'s court cost of $443 plus an additional fee of $100; $500 for the victim compensation.
There will be a restitution hearing later to determine his part in paying for the original trial which included over $1100 for the police investigation; and over $10,000 for flying in and housing the Geico employees who were witnesses.
Webb is to continue with his long term mental health treatment and follow all treatment recommendations, including medications. This will be monitored by the court.
As a convicted felon, he'll lose his civil rights- including voting rights, and gun wnership for five years. (Knowing his past threats to others and himself, and his bragadaccio with his licensed-to-carry gun, the judge inquired if he had any guns. He said he did not, he'd gotten rid of it. "This is outrageous," he said angrily, I never used that gun!"
With that, the trial ended; Mike gave BlatherWatch the finger on his way out- a gesture of hope and reconciliation.