He was a public defender. Now he may need a lawyer.
A Bellingham attorney and former public defense lawyer for the City of Ferndale was arrested for allegedly making harassing comments and threatening the life of Ferndale’s prosecuting attorney.
Daniel Thomas Parsons, 51, was booked on suspicion of felony harassment. Formal charges are expected to be filed by Friday. Bail was set Wednesday at $10,000.
If convicted, Parsons faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine, according to Whatcom County Superior Court records.
On Monday, City of Ferndale prosecuting attorney David Nelson along with a witness contacted law enforcement regarding alleged threats being made toward Nelson by Parsons, according to a probable cause statement read in court Wednesday.
Both Parsons and Nelson have worked in Bellingham for many years as attorneys. Nelson told investigators he and Parsons’ relationship had been adversarial for several years, but had gotten worse over the past six months, the probable cause indicated.
Nelson said he felt the comments Parsons was making were very personal, including an accusation that Nelson was taking food from the mouths of Parsons’ children, the records state.
Several people told investigators they thought Parsons’ mental health was deteriorating and he seemed fixated on Nelson, according to court records.
Parsons recently lost the public defense contract for the City of Ferndale. City officials were not immediately available for comment.
On Sept. 12 of last year, Nelson had two voicemails on his phone from Parsons. One accused him of “ratting Parsons out” to jail staff because Parsons had accidentally brought a pocket knife into the facility, and the other accused Nelson of plotting his next move against Parsons with another attorney, according to the statement read in court.
Parsons warned Nelson “not to mistake his kindness for weakness,” the records state.
Nelson previously had similar contact with Parsons, but had not reported it to police because no direct threat had been made, the statement indicated.
The probable cause statement read in court Wednesday further alleged:
▪ A second witness told investigators he recalled several encounters with Parsons that made him concerned for Parsons’ mental stability. In early December, the witness asked Parsons what his plans for the new year were, and Parsons made comments about upping his life insurance policy and finding someone to care for his dogs. The witness told investigators he thought the comments seemed suicidal.
▪ Several weeks later, the same witness saw Parsons make a motion like he was shooting himself in the head. Parsons then made more comments about his life insurance.
▪ On Jan. 9, the witness was at a hearing in the jail courtroom and Nelson was at the podium. Parsons was about to walk into the client room when he approached the witness and said “Tell Dave I’m going to get him.”
▪ The first witness told investigators on Sunday, Parsons sent him a picture of a rifle with the caption, “Now Dave can pretend to be scared.”
▪ Another picture of a club wrapped in chain was sent with the caption, “Actually here’s his.” The witness then told investigators he received a text from Parsons that read “quick or slow death based on his begging.”
▪ Nelson told authorities he feared for his life based on the threats made by Parsons and because he knew Parsons possessed weapons.
First court appearance
An anti-harassment order was put into place for Nelson, and Parsons is to have no contact with the witnesses. He’s required to turn over any firearms or weapons he may possess – he also has to undergo a mental health evaluation before being released from jail.