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Monday, June 22, 2009

Kroger: Not Enough Evidence To Prosecute...

Posted by Matt Davis on Mon, Jun 22, 2009 at 1:15 PM

Conflicting statements made by Beau Breedlove about his conduct with Sam Adams, and Breedlove's acceptance of money to appear in Unzipped magazine would have most likely compromised any criminal prosecution of Adams, said Attorney General John Kroger at today's noon press conference.
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KROGER: TOOK QUESTIONS FROM A PACKED PRESS GALLERY IN SALEM...

The specific "conflicting statements" in question are those made to the Oregonian about kissing Adams in a restroom, which were subsequently withdrawn in a written statement provided by Breedlove to the Attorney General, as far as I could understand.

"If we prosecuted this case in a court of law, we would have the statement from one witness—a witness who made directly contradictory statements," said Kroger. "This case is too weak to charge in court."

"Having reviewed quite frankly every criminal statute we could think of to determine whether or not there was a problem," said Kroger, "we could not."

Kroger said it is not a crime under Oregon law to lie to a police officer or investigator. So journalists also asked why Kroger decided not to put Adams and Breedlove before a grand jury, where they would have had to take an oath. Kroger responded that it wouldn't be appropriate to put Adams before a grand jury, because he would have a fifth amendment right to silence as the subject in the investigation. Meanwhile, he said, Breedlove's statements would not have been a factor in any charging decision he made.

Kroger said his office had checked immigration records to see whether there was a possibility that Adams could have accompanied Breedlove to Mexico before Breedlove's 18th birthday. "We found no evidence or record of such a trip."

Kroger said there was no indication that Adams had lied in any registered filing such as a candidate statement or voter's pamphlet, as is required to break Oregon election fraud law. There had been an option for an aggrieved party to file a civil suit against Adams, said Kroger, but "that deadline had passed."

"We are not making any assessment about Mayor Adams' credibility," Kroger added. He also said he had no comment on whether former Mercury news editor Amy Ruiz is qualified for the job as Adams' sustainability policy advisor—it was only his job to investigate whether laws had been broken. In the case of Ruiz, Kroger said, witnesses had all made similar statements as to the facts.

The only witness who had refused to be interviewed, according to Kroger's investigator Don Nelson, was Breedlove's ex-boyfriend, Mark Merkle.

I asked how investigating this case has been different from Kroger's investigation of mafia bosses and Enron thieves.

"Not different," he said. "Every criminal case is different. It's my duty to treat every putative defendant or person accused of a crime the same."

Kroger said his office had made no effort to quantify how much the five-month long investigation had cost.
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KROGER: SPOKE TO WW REPORTER NIGEL JAQUISS AFTER THE CONFERENCE...

"One thing I would add," said Kroger to Jaquiss, "is that if we had gone to a grand jury, then much less information would be publicly available now because of grand jury secrecy laws."

The Mercury has lodged a public records request for the full report, which Kroger's office expects to fulfil some time in the mid afternoon.

Reaction in the press gallery seemed one of broad disappointment. Most journalists it seemed were hoping for charges to be brought, whether they might have admitted it, or not. One even asked whether any witnesses had been subjected to polygraph tests.

"Generally we have been trying to treat this like we would any normal investigation," Kroger responded. "I have never subjected any potential witness to a polygraph."

Some "reporters" were more forthcoming with their reactions: "You go into these investigations and you've got shackles on," said Victoria Taft, a right-wing radio host who has followed the whole scandal very closely, after the press conference. "If you're not willing to take the word of Beau Breedlove, who is admittedly shady, but you're willing to take the word of Mayor Sam Adams, who has been proven to lie? I mean, come on. This is bad news. It's just unbelievable. Finally you can groom a kid for sex and you don't get in trouble for it."

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