Former Washougal official still in legal limbo

Bivens' sentencing delayed repeatedly

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter

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Jeffrey Bivens may have pleaded guilty to federal charges in October 2010, but more than three years later, the former Washougal city finance director and licensed tax attorney has yet to begin serving his sentence for the crime.

In fact, he hasn't even received a sentence. Since pleading guilty, Bivens' sentencing date has been changed at least 10 times, and he doesn't currently have a hearing date.

Bivens was first scheduled to be sentenced for making materially false statements to the Small Business Administration and Wachovia Bank on May 23, 2011. But two weeks before that court date, Bivens' attorney, John W. Wolfe of Seattle, requested a postponement due to a personal health matter.

U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle granted the request and rescheduled the sentencing for Sept. 26, 2011. That court date was postponed again due to Wolfe's ongoing health issues and additional investigating in the case. In May 2012, the assistant U.S. attorney on the case asked for a postponement so he could undergo cancer treatment.

Those delays pushed the sentencing back to Dec. 10, 2012, but that date wasn't kept, either. Instead, repeated delays pushed Bivens' appearance farther and farther back on the calendar.

In October 2013, Wolfe filed a motion to postpone his client's Nov. 4 hearing until January. In court documents, Wolfe indicated he had depositions for another case scheduled that day and would likely need to travel out of the country to meet with his clients in November and December.

Settle approved the postponement and scheduled Bivens' sentencing for Jan. 27. But two weeks before that date, the hearing was stricken. It has not yet been rescheduled.

Emily Langlie, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, said the delay is the result of a continuing investigation. Langlie said Department of Justice rules prohibit her from providing any more information on the matter.

She referred The Columbian to Bivens' attorney for additional information. Wolfe didn't respond to a request for comment.

Facing five years

Under the terms of the plea agreement, Bivens faces five years in prison and shares responsibility for a portion of the $1.7 million loss associated with the bank and an SBA loan.

The charges followed Bivens' role in the sale of a Longview-based disaster restoration company in May 2007.

Bivens provided Wachovia Bank with an inaccurate sale price of the business. As a result, the bank agreed to a loan of $2 million, which was guaranteed by the SBA, to the purchaser, according to court documents.

Bivens failed to disclose information to the bank and SBA, and he helped engineer a secret second closing, which he and others concealed from the bank.

In January 2011, Bivens filed a permanent resignation from the Washington State Bar Association in lieu of disbarment.