Attorney Pleads Guilty To Tax Evasion In Conspiracy Case -- False Invoices Cost Burien Hospital $400,000, Prosecutors Say

A Grays Harbor County attorney who has been active in Democratic politics has pleaded guilty in federal court to two counts of income-tax evasion, averting the need for a complicated conspiracy trial involving the looting of more than $400,000 from Schick Shadel Hospital in Burien.

Four co-defendants also pleaded guilty yesterday to related charges.

Daniel Tighe, a Montesano lawyer who served as the hospital's legal counsel, could be sentenced to up to 5 1/2 years in prison and fined $250,000 under a plea agreement submitted to U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein.

In addition, Tighe has agreed to make restitution in an amount to be determined later for unpaid federal income tax plus interest.

Sentencing was set for March 8.

Also entering pleas yesterday were:

-- Tighe's wife, Antoinette Tighe, 43, who pleaded guilty to one count of tax evasion

-- His mother and bookkeeper, Rose Tighe, 65, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of providing false information to a government agency

-- Veronica Ojdana, 46, the former administrator of the hospital

-- Ross Robinson, 40, the former controller.

Ojdana and Robinson pleaded guilty to one felony count of making false statements to a government agency involving Medicare reimbursements.

The hospital is the state's oldest and largest substance-abuse treatment center.

About 10 years ago, Daniel Tighe, now 40, was retained by the owner, the Frawley Corp. of Los Angeles, to become the hospital's lawyer and consultant dealing primarily with insurance-reimbursement issues.

His wife ran a small women's-clothing store named Raphaels, located on the upper floor of the two-story building which housed Daniel Tighe's law office in Montesano.

Rose Tighe, his mother, kept the books for his law office and for his wife's store.

The government charged that a conspiracy to defraud the hospital continued from May 1983 to January 1989. Investigators started looking into the matter in April 1988 after Mary Ellen Stewart replaced Ojdana as the administrator and grew suspicious about records of a furniture purchase by the hospital.

Stewart knew the hospital never got the 126 new night stands, and the invoice was from Antoinette Tighe's clothing store, Raphaels, which did not sell furniture. Stewart alerted Frawley Corp. headquarters, which contacted federal authorities.

Some 71 fraudulent invoices totaling more than $400,000 were identified from 14 vendors. The invoices were part of an elaborate scheme to loot and plunder the hospital by the defendants, the government charged in a 21-count indictment returned last February.

Bookkeeping deceptions were hidden from accountants who prepared Daniel Tighe's yearly income taxes by his mother, the government charged.

The Tighes used the stolen money on luxury items ``consistent with their rich and fast-paced lifestyle,'' prosecutors said in court papers.

``A few examples of such purchases include a Porsche, a Mercedes, a virtual reconstruction of their home, travel and cosmetic surgery.''

Records with the Federal Election Commission in Washington, D.C., show Tighe and his wife contributed at least $8,000 to individual Democratic candidates or to the Democratic Party since 1983. Beneficiaries included former Seattle Mayor Charles Royer, U.S. Sen. Brock Adams, D-Wash., and former Congressman Don Bonker, who received $5,000.

In addition to facing sentencing in federal court, Tighe and his mother are scheduled to be sentenced March 7 in Grays Harbor Superior Court. Last month, each was convicted of four counts of forgery and four counts of offering a false statement for filing in Grays Harbor District Court.

The two were convicted of using Schick Shadel Hospital stationery to create and file false documents concerning deferred prosecution of Daniel Tighe's drunken-driving clients.

Jerry Fuller, chief criminal deputy prosecutor, said he may seek an exceptional sentence for Tighe because he violated his position of trust as an officer of the court.

In addition, Daniel Tighe has been charged with assault in Montesano Municipal Court in a Dec. 15 attack on his wife. Tighe, who spent a night in jail after his arrest, pleaded not guilty. He is set to appear for a pretrial hearing in that case Feb. 12.

Tighe's license to practice law was suspended by the state Supreme Court Dec. 24 as a result of the felony convictions in Grays Harbor County, according to the Washington State Bar Association.