Josh Amato, who is running for Sammamish City Council position 1, got an unwelcomed surprise for his campaign last week.
The Sammamish Comment, a local blog, released a post accusing Amato of being dishonest over a 2009 misdemeanor charge that was eventually dismissed by the Tacoma Municipal Court. The post was released on Oct. 16 — three days after ballots were mailed out to voters.
In the post, blogger Miki Mullor cited a police report from the incident, in which a man named Paul Cardenas alleged that Amato, who was 21 at the time, verbally threatened to kill him, and that Amato’s younger brother, Joseph, cocked a shotgun during the confrontation. Cardenas was dating Amato’s sister, Cassie, at the time.
In an interview with the Sammamish Independent, Amato said Cardenas invented many details in the police report. He admitted getting into a heated argument with Cardenas to stay away from his sister, who was temporarily living in Amato’s house with her baby to escape abuse by Cardenas. But Amato said he did not threaten to kill Cardenas, and his brother did not bring a shotgun to the scene.
“He [Cardenas] knew we had them [shotguns] and he just made it up,” Amato said.
Recounting that day, Amato said that after the argument with Cardenas went nowhere, he and his brother left the scene. Only later did he find out that Cardenas had called the police. He then went back to his house and was arrested based on the false account that Cardenas provided.
Amato also said he voluntarily turned in two shotguns that were stored in his house after police threatened to get a warrant to search his entire house for them. He asked his grandmother to retrieve them because he was handcuffed.
“My brother and I both had shotguns, and it wasn’t a secret. We went skeet shooting,” Amato said.
In the end, no firearm charges were filed against Amato or his brother. Amato was charged with a misdemeanor for harassment and threatening bodily injury.
Amato said he was preparing to go to trial, but eventually accepted a stipulated order of continuance offered by the prosecutor because he could not afford the legal cost of a trial. In such an order, the court agrees to dismiss the charge if certain conditions are met. Amato clarified that he did not plead guilty.
According to the court record, Amato complied with the elements of the deal, which includes having no contact with Cardenas and maintaining a clean record for one year. In 2012, the charge was dismissed and the case records were expunged.
After Mullor published the post on the Sammamish Comment, Amato’s sister, Cassie, wrote a comment in support of her brother’s version of events.
In the comment, she explained why she corroborated Cardenas’ allegations against Amato in the original police report 12 years ago.
“I was a victim who would say anything my abusive boyfriend told me to say, even to the police,” Cassie wrote. “Despite what my abusive and troubled ex-boyfriend said back in 2009, my brother didn’t make a death threat, use a firearm, or say anything racist.”
In 2013, Cardenas pled guilty to four counts of second degree assault for beating Cassie and her new boyfriend with a baseball bat, according to Pierce County Superior Court records.
Amato understands some voters might be concerned about this incident in his past. He regrets the actions he took that day to confront Cardenas.
“I like to think I learned from it, and I hope that Sammamish voters can look at what I did in the full context and give me a chance to serve them,” Amato said.
Amato also said that Mullor, who wrote the blog post, did not talk to him to understand the full story before publishing it.
“I just wished he [Mullor] would’ve tried to approach this honestly rather than attempt to smear me because of whatever personal reasons he has,” Amato said.