The Ex-Cop Who Claimed He Couldn’t Be Prosecuted for Heroin Possession Because He’s an Australian Diplomat

A blog about murder, theft, and other wickedness.
Aug. 22 2013 5:21 PM

The Ex-Cop Who Claimed He Couldn’t Be Prosecuted for Heroin Possession Because He’s an Australian Diplomat

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A sky diver flying the Australian flag enters the course prior to the Red Bull Air Race Qualifying on April 17, 2010 in Perth, Australia.

Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images for Red Bull Air Race

“That’s No Excuse” is an occasional series spotlighting unconvincing criminal alibis.

Name: Mitchell J. Wright

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Alleged crime: First-degree theft, heroin possession

The facts: It’s hard to pinpoint when, exactly, things started to go wrong for former Seattle-area sheriff’s deputy Mitchell J. Wright. Was it when, as a DEA task force member, Wright for some reason decided it would be a good idea to become roommates with a police informant? Or was it when that informant was caught shooting heroin in a McDonald’s parking lot, parked in a truck that was registered to Wright? Maybe the problems really started when investigators found several bags of heroin in Wright’s patrol car, or when Wright was made to resign from the force in July.

Whenever Wright’s problems began, they got worse on Monday, when he was arrested by his former colleagues and charged with theft and heroin possession. According to King County prosecutors, Wright allegedly stole “1,600 oxycodone pills, a half-pound of benzodiazepine and about a teaspoon of cocaine,” which I like to imagine he kept in an actual teaspoon, for reasons of daintiness. Though Wright allegedly kept the heroin for his own use, his alleged plans for the rest of the drugs are not yet clear. Personally, I hope they were just props for use in the pilot episode of the weird, gritty Odd Couple reboot in which Wright apparently thought he was starring.

The alibi: After he was arrested, Wright allegedly presented several terrible reasons why the cops were making a huge mistake. I’ll let seattlepi.com take it from here:

Having first asked for a lawyer, Wright proceeded to make a series of outlandish claims, including asserting that he was immune to prosecution as an Australian diplomat, the King County detective told the court.
“He also stated that he had a job lined up in Australia that was going to pay him $400,000 a year and that he had terminal bone cancer and only had six months to live,” the detective said in court papers. “He then continued that this investigation was one big misunderstanding.”

Why this is a bad alibi: Points for creativity, I guess. But more points deducted for implausibility. There are several reasons why this alibi isn’t very plausible. First, Wright was arrested by his former co-workers at the King’s County Sheriff’s Office, who would have presumably been in a position to know that he wasn’t actually an Australian diplomat. (If that were true, you’d think he would have mentioned it before, at some sheriff’s office cookout or something.) Second, the Australian economy is said to be on the verge of recession, thus making it unlikely that anyone, let alone an American ex-cop with pending heroin possession charges, will be scoring $400,000-per-year jobs down there anytime soon. And third, as everyone knows, real diplomats wear sashes that say “Diplomat” on them. Where’s your sash, Wright? WHERE’S YOUR SASH?

Justin Peters is a writer for Slate. He is working on a book about Aaron Swartz, copyright, and the rise of “free culture.” Email him at justintrevett@fastmail.fm.