New claims of eavesdropping at the Yakima County Jail

YAKIMA, Wash. -- New allegations of eavesdropping on inmate phone calls at the Yakima County Jail has the prosecutor's office on the defensive. It's a claim that will now bring a special prosecutor to investigate.

Yakima County's prosecuting attorney denies any wrongdoing.

"It's surfacing again, what's your office going to do to keep this from really happening again?" asked KIMA.

"The office disagrees with the allegations. They weren't illegally intercepted. The jail has the right to record and monitor jail calls," said Jim Hagarty.

Calls from the jail can be recorded, but there's a limit. Conversations inmates have with their lawyers are off limits. They are protected by attorney client privilege. This latest claim surrounds a drug case where the lawyer for Daniel Woolem says their conversations were violated.

Eavesdropping at the jail first became an issue when allegations surfaced that calls between Kevin Harper and his lawyer were being listened to.

"We didn't listen to these phone calls. In fact, if you remember it was one of my staff members who started to listen to calls. Came across his number, listened, and realized immediately that it was a call between Harper and his attorney. Shut down that call," Hagarty told KIMA.

The claim involving the Harper case initiated a special investigation last year, but that was scrapped when the state reached a plea deal with the West Valley triple murder suspect.

Hagarty says some calls between inmates and their attorneys were recorded on accident. But, there's no way to track exactly who did it because they've been using the same account to log into the system.

"Several people use the same login. Should everyone have their own so they can be tracked?" asked KIMA reporter.

"No, that's not correct. As prosecutor, I was given a login and password. But, I wasn't using it on a regular basis, so what I did was is I advised the victim witness that they could use and may, and probably told the attorneys, because we were limited number of access and wasn't using mine, that you could access my username if you had to get in," said Hagarty.

Hagarty says one solution might be to make sure the jail has a list of every contact number belonging to an attorney so their calls don't get recorded.

There's no decision yet who the special prosecutor will be or when that investigation will start.