Oregon News Update, Thursday, March 28th

….Reported by Elizabeth Corning and Jonathon Avery

Oregon News, Thursday, March 28, 2019

WHITE CITY, Ore. – A man died at the hospital Tuesday afternoon from injuries he sustained when his motorcycle crashed into the side of a semi-truck.  Nobody else was injured.

On March 26 police received a 911 call reporting the crash near Avenue G.  An eastbound motorcycle struck the side of a BioMass One truck and trailer that was crossing Avenue G at a driveway access.  The caller told dispatch that the motorcycle had been traveling at a high rate of speed prior to the crash. 

The motorcycle operator was transported by ambulance to Rogue Regional Medical Center (RRMC) where he later died of his injuries.  The driver of the semi-truck was uninjured and is cooperating with the investigation.

The operator of the motorcycle who died following a crash with a semi-truck Tuesday was identified as Gerald Duane Golden, Jr., 58, of White City.  Golden was operating a black 2016 Harley Davidson motorcycle. 

The preliminary investigation indicates alcohol impairment and excessive speed by Golden were contributing factors in the crash.  Further toxicology tests will be conducted by the medical examiner’s office. 

The operator of the truck was identified as James Mason Anderson, 58, of Central Point.  He was operating a 1988 Kenworth truck with a trailer.  Anderson has cooperated with the investigation.

MEDFORD – A joint investigation between the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) led to the arrest of a Medford man on charges related to online sharing of images of child sexual abuse.  Jeffery Andrew Ford, 54, was arrested at his residence on Wednesday morning. 

Detectives served a search warrant at Ford’s home in the 300-block of DeBarr Avenue, with assistance from the JCSO SWAT team.  Ford was taken into custody without incident.

Following the service of the search warrant, Ford was lodged in the Jackson County jail on six counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the First Degree and six counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree.  Total bail at lodging was $105,000.

PORTLAND, Ore.—Former nurse practitioner Julie Ann DeMille, 60, of Portland, was sentenced today to 48 months in federal prison and three years’ supervised release for illegally distributing prescription opioids, filing a false tax return and lying to federal agents.

“Our nation is drowning in substance abuse. We must wake up to this reality and stop pushing the reckless use of controlled substances. DeMille treated her nursing credentials like a license to deal opioids—a drug dealer masquerading as a medical professional. It’s hard to comprehend that in the midst of the deadliest drug crisis in history, DeMille risked the lives of hundreds to turn a profit,” said Billy J. Williams, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

“Opioid abuse is devastating our communities and we must respond aggressively to stem the flow because every person lost in this crisis is one too many,” said DEA Special Agent in Charge Keith Weis.

“This case is an excellent example of how the financial expertise of IRS-Criminal Investigation employees contributes to the federal law enforcement fabric,” said IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Justin Campbell. “IRS-Criminal Investigation is committed to serving the U.S. taxpayers and working with our partners to make our communities safer. DeMille has been held accountable for her actions and we will continue to investigate and seek prosecution of individuals who do not report their taxable income, regardless of whether the income is legal or illegal.”          

According to court documents, in January 2015, DeMille opened the Fusion Wellness Clinic on Southeast 122nd Avenue in Portland across the street from the Multnomah County Parole and Probation Office. From the clinic’s opening until July 2016, DeMille illegally wrote thousands of prescriptions for opioids including oxycodone and hydrocodone.

As early as 2013, DeMille began planning a move from Houston, Texas to Portland. She was attracted to Oregon where licensed nurse practitioners can write prescriptions without the oversight and approval of a physician. She moved in 2014 and was hired by a publicly funded, county health clinic. From the beginning, DeMille planned to subsidize her county income by operating an illegal opioid pill mill. By the end of 2014, DeMille had registered the “Fusion Wellness” business name and begun searching for clinic locations.

After DeMille’s first clinic opened in January 2015, word spread quickly that the small, cash-only operation was a reliable source for cheap and easy opioid prescriptions. On Friday and Saturday mornings, customers would spill into parking areas outside the clinic and wait in cars for their turn in the cramped office. The clinic quickly outgrew its original location and, in April 2015, was moved to a new location on Northeast 101st Avenue in Portland.

Before long, DeMille’s prescribing habits began attracting the attention of law enforcement and the Oregon State Board of Nursing. Shortly after the clinic opened, three of DeMille’s patients attempted to fill identical prescriptions for 30mg doses of oxycodone together at a local pharmacy. The pharmacist turned the patients away and contacted police. A Gresham police officer later contacted DeMille by phone to discuss the prescriptions and forwarded a copy of the general offense report to the state nursing board. The nursing board opened an investigation into DeMille’s prescribing practices just three weeks after the clinic opened.

The Fifth Annual Veteran Benefit Expo, the state’s largest veteran resource event, comes to eastern Oregon for the first time this summer.  The Expo, which has previously served veterans in Salem, Portland, Redmond and Medford, will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, July 27, at the Pendleton Convention Center.

The purpose of the event is to provide a one-stop shop for Oregon veterans of all eras and walks of life to learn about and access the full range of their earned benefits. The Expo offers resources from many different benefit areas, including health care, claims assistance, finance, home loans, long-term care, mental health, education, business and recreation.

The annual Expo is organized by the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs and is hosted in different locations throughout the state.

“One thing we hear from veterans year after year with this event is that they’re blown away by all the benefits and resources they never knew existed,” ODVA Director Kelly Fitzpatrick said. “Most come to the Expo with some idea of a few areas they want information in, but they always walk away with a whole lot more.”

This year’s event is being presented in partnership with Oregon Lottery, a longtime supporter of causes important to Oregonians, including public education, the environment and the veteran community.

ODVA invites government and nonprofit organizations that provide direct services to veterans in Oregon to participate in this year’s Expo. We also welcome for-profit companies that are interested in hiring veterans to participate in the Veteran Career Fair that is held in conjunction with the Expo. 

Colette S. Peters, Director of the Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC), recently announced the appointment of Heidi Steward as the agency’s new Deputy Director, effective May 1.

Ms. Steward will step into this role after the retirement of Deputy Director Brian Belleque, who served ODOC for 36 years.

Ms. Steward is a 23-year ODOC veteran, beginning her career in 1996. Most recently, she served as the Assistant Director of Correctional Services. Steward brings broad, cross-functional experience to the role; before her appointment to Assistant Director, she was the Superintendent of Coffee Creek Correctional Facility, Oregon’s only women’s prison and intake center for men and women. She has also served as Administrator of the Government Efficiencies and Communications Office, Assistant Superintendent of Correctional Rehabilitation, and prior spent many years in the treatment and re-entry arenas of ODOC.

ODOC employs 4,700 staff members at 14 institutions, two community corrections offices, and several centralized support facilities throughout the state. The agency is responsible for the care and custody of over 14,900 adults sentenced to more than 12 months of incarceration, and direct or indirect supervision of 31,000 offenders on felony supervision in the community. ODOC is recognized nationally among correctional agencies for providing adults in custody with the cognitive, education, and job skills needed to become good neighbors when they transition back to our communities.  

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Forest Service will invest over $2 million this year to mitigate wildfire risk and restore healthy forest ecosystems through two targeted projects on public and private lands in Oregon.

The Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership enables NRCS and the Forest Service to leverage technical and financial assistance collaboratively alongside agricultural producers and forest landowners in Oregon to help reduce wildfire threats, protect water quality and supply, and improve wildlife habitat for at-risk species.

The two Oregon projects in the Fremont-Winema and Umpqua National Forests are part of a nationwide initiative that includes 13 projects for 2019 and a total USDA investment of $12 million.

Since 2014, USDA has invested $213 million in 69 Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership projects which focus on areas where public forests and grasslands intersect with privately-owned lands. The latest projects bring the total Joint Chiefs’ projects in Oregon to seven.

“Our partnership and collaboration with U.S. Forest Service, Oregon Department of Forestry, and other partners allows us to leverage combined technical and financial resources to positively impact private and public land simultaneously,” said Ron Alvarado, NRCS state conservationist for Oregon.

About the Projects

Chiloquin Community Forest and Fire Project, $1,717,588 total USDA investment

Both the Chiloquin Community and Klamath County Wildfire Protection Plans have identified 184,370 acres of private and National Forest System land in and around the Fremont-Winema National Forest as a high-risk for wildfire. Partners plan to strengthen landscapes and promote fire-adapted communities, improve safe and effective wildfire response, enhance aquatic habitat, and restore ecological function.

Elk Creek Watershed Restoration Partnership Project, $599,859 total USDA investment

Heavy fuel loads and Douglas-fir encroachment have put the 54,366-acre Elk Creek 5th-field watershed in the Umpqua National Forest at severe risk of intense wildfire. The project will focus on restoring oak, pine, and meadow habitats on public, Tribal, and private lands. Partners will reduce fuels for wildfire through timber sales and non-commercial fuels treatments such as brush thinning and prescribed burning. Aquatic habitat restoration is also a component of the project.

This project enjoys high levels of cooperation and support from a wide swath of the public with letters of support, ongoing cooperative working groups, and matching funding from Tribal governments, environmental special interest groups and the timber industry.

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