Ryan Padgett, 25, of Orcas Island has been charged in San Juan County District Court with malicious mischief in the third degree, littering greater than one cubic yard and obstructing a law enforcement officer by failing to provide a valid ID.
Padgett’s attorney from the Rhodes Legal Group in Seattle filed a waiver of arraignment, which waived an in-court appearance and entered a plea of not guilty. His pre-trial conference is set for Nov. 20.
According to the statement of probable cause, at 5:16 p.m. on Oct. 2, a deputy responded to a report of an excavator operator burying a vehicle at an Eastsound property. The operator was identified as Padgett, co-owner of A&R Construction. According to the deputy, on Sept. 27, Padgett had requested a VIN inspection on two abandoned vehicles on the same property, which is not owned by Padgett or his company. The sheriff’s office identified the vehicles and completed a junk report. Padgett was told he had 15 days to provide notification of removal.
Upon arrival at the scene on Oct. 2, the deputy allegedly saw what looked to be a vehicle frame being held by an excavator. According to the report, “the excavator had smashed down the vehicle and picked it up approximately six feet in the air.” The deputy noticed a large mound of dirt on the uphill side of a large hole in the ground, which looked “approximately three feet (deep) by ten feet wide and 15 feet long.”
When Padgett was asked why he was burying the vehicle, he allegedly stated that he was not. Upon being questioned, Padgett indicated he was smashing the vehicle down and had dug a hole to “bury the nearby foundation.”
The deputy asked Padgett for his identification. He stated it was in his truck and went to retrieve it but did not hand it over. The deputy reported that after approximately five minutes, he again asked Padgett to provide his ID, around the same time another deputy arrived on location. Padgett allegedly responded “no” to the request. Padgett was asked a third time and again “refused to provide his identification,” according to the probable cause statement. Padgett was placed under arrest for obstructing a law enforcement officer. The deputies took photos of the scene that showed a “smashed up black SUV was in the bottom of the hole.” One of the officers stated he recognized the vehicle as the one he had signed a junk vehicle affidavit for the previous week.
Officers contacted the property owner’s lawyer, Stephen Nichols, who stated he and the property owner “did not authorize any garbage or vehicles to be buried on the property.” According to the report, in a follow-up, Nichols was asked if he was willing to help ensure that no other environmentally hazardous vehicle parts were left behind. Nichols allegedly informed the deputy he was unable to cooperate, and if a search warrant was obtained, he would file a restraining order. The Department of Ecology was notified.
Padgett told the Sounder, “I am presenting a case against this. The situation was, I did not bury the car. It was a total accident. I dug a hole to build a ramp so I could roll it onto the dump truck. I accidentally dug it too close to the car and it fell in. The sheriff came by to ask for my ID.”