01/26/2006

Ore. officer resigns amid theft accusation

JOHN SNELL and DAVID R. ANDERSON, The Oregonian
 
Copyright 2006 The Oregonian
All Rights Reserved

BEAVERTON -- A Beaverton police officer has resigned and his supervisor demoted amid accusations the officer used city-supplied gasoline in his personal car.

Officer Shane Pallesen resigned and Lt. David Gilbert was demoted to the rank of patrol officer late last year.

Beaverton Police Chief David G. Bishop announced the moves on Monday, just hours before they were publicly discussed before the Beaverton City Council.

Bishop said Pallesen's resignation was in connection with the "misappropriation" of $132.91 of gasoline for personal use. Pallesen repaid the city for the cost of the gasoline, which was purchased in Sandy and Clackamas.

On Monday, city officials rejected Gilbert's appeal of his two-rank demotion.

Victor Calzaretta reviewed the appeal for city officials. Calzaretta is a private-practice lawyer who often represents police officers and their families.

City Council members Monday night agreed to spend as much as $5,000 to pay Calzaretta. His bill is likely to be less, said Alan Rappleyea, city attorney, on Tuesday.

The city hired Calzaretta because the city's attorneys are not experts in labor law and this was an important case, Bishop said.

No criminal charges were filed in connection with the accusations against Pallesen, an officer with the city for 61/2 years.

"It was investigated by the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office and forwarded to the district attorney's office," Bishop said.

Greg Horner, Clackamas County's chief deputy district attorney, said he made the decision not to prosecute the gasoline theft. He said that because the officer lost his job and made restitution, he felt that was a fair resolution.

"The allegations were that it was a misdemeanor theft charge," he said. "Looking at this as a whole, the consequences to him far exceeded the value of what was alleged to have been taken."

Beaverton police officers are issued gas cards to keep their patrol cars fueled. Bishop said the alleged gasoline thefts started in April and came to the city's attention in November.

He said Gilbert was demoted because he didn't adequately discipline Pallesen after he learned about the incidents.

Mark Makler, the private lawyer representing Gilbert, said Tuesday the demotion was out of proportion to Gilbert's actions. Gilbert didn't dispute that he erred and didn't follow procedures, Makler said. However, Gilbert was trying to deal with Pallesen in a fair manner.

Gilbert, who has been with the department for 20 years, didn't deserve a two-rank demotion, Makler said.

"I'm astonished at that decision by the police administration in this matter," Makler said. "His history doesn't support a demotion of this type."

In a letter rejecting Gilbert's appeal, Nancy Bates, the city's human resources director, said Bishop considered firing Gilbert, but took into account his length of service and chose to demote him.

Officer Mark Hyde, Beaverton Police Department spokesman, said Gilbert's demotion to patrol officer would include a salary reduction. Hyde could not provide the exact difference in salary Gilbert faces.

Patrol officers earn $3,621 to $4,851 a month, while lieutenants earn $5,191 to $6,958.

John Snell: 503-294-5949; johnsnell@news.oregonian.com

David R. Anderson: 503-294-5199; davidanderson@news.oregonian.com 

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