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Nisqually Vice Chairman William Frank pleads not guilty to attempted robbery

William Thomas C. Frank III, vice chairman of the Nisqually Tribal Council and the son of legendary Nisqually tribal leader Billy Frank Jr., pleaded not guilty to two counts of attempted robbery in the first degree at Thurston County Superior Court on Tuesday morning.

During the brief arraignment, Steven Ungar, Frank’s Portland-based attorney and a longtime family friend of the Franks, asked the court to approve a motion for his client to “enroll in an inpatient residential facility for a complete physical and psychiatric evaluation and treatment program in Newberg, Ore.,” according to the motion filed with court.

Newberg, Ore., is home to Hazelden’s Springbrook facility. Ungar told the court that his client could leave for Oregon as early as Tuesday.

Thurston County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Olivia Zhou said the state did not object to Frank traveling to Oregon or taking part in the inpatient treatment program.

After the arraignment, Ungar acknowledged that his client faces serious charges, which “have our full attention.” But the first step is to see to his client’s health and physical well -being, he said.

Ungar elaborated on the state of his client’s mental health in court filings:

“My client has struggled with severe grief since the unexpected death of his father, Billy Frank Jr., on May 5. His father passed away suddenly in Mr. Frank’s home, where he attempted to revive him but was unsuccessful. Since his indictment, Mr. Frank has suffered extreme levels of mental distress and other severe problems as a result of this traumatic experience and other factors. This has resulted in Mr. Frank making several trips to the (Providence) St. Peter Hospital emergency room, including as recently as the night of July 20.”

The evaluation at Hazelden is set for a minimum of 30 days, Ungar said.

He also said that Frank plans to continue to serve on the Tribal Council. Frank is expected back in court on Aug. 28 for a pre-trial hearing.

Frank, 32, was arrested this month on suspicion of attempted robbery after employees with Umpqua Bank and Columbia Bank, both of which are on Harrison Avenue in west Olympia, notified police about a suspicious person inside the banks wearing small bandages on his face and heavy clothing for a warm day.

Olympia police officers arrived in the area and stopped the suspect’s SUV, noticing clothes in a back seat that fit an earlier description. They also found a plastic replica handgun, which looked like a semi-automatic firearm, and the orange tip of the gun had been marked over with black ink, according to charging documents.

Police later identified the gun as a pellet gun, according to an Olympia police news release.

Frank eventually admitted to police that he had entered both banks with the intent to commit a robbery.

“Frank stated on each attempt his conscience took over and he couldn’t proceed with his plan to rob the bank,” charging documents state.

Frank also said he had financial problems and believed a bank robbery was a “way out of those obligations,” according to the release.

Frank, too, is the subject of a Washington State Patrol investigation, alleging fraud, spokesman Bob Calkins confirmed earlier this month, although he was unable to share details of the case.

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