Bernie Giusto: "The Teflon Sheriff" aka "Porno Pants"

Sheriff Bernie Giusto scored a victory in January when he was cleared of misusing his office in shipping former Citizens Crime Commission head Jim Jeddeloh off to rehab while dating Jeddeloh's wife, Lee Doss (PPR #37). Though an email signed "XOXO" surfaced from the time Giusto denied being in a relationship with Doss, the Sheriff weathered the storm. The difference between Giusto's seeming untouchability and the demotion and scandal that knocked former Portland Chief Derrick Foxworth down to Commander led the Oregonian to write an article on "The Teflon Sheriff and the Fallen Chief" (February 22). Those interviewed in the article clearly don't read the People's Police Report, as they allowed Giusto to claim he hadn't received "one e-mail, not one phone call, not one comment on the street relative to this situation... What the public is telling you is that the public is satisfied that my actions in this situation were acceptable." However, the article reports that deputies privately refer to Giusto as "Porno Pants."

In addition, several new scandals have popped up at the Sheriff's Office:

--Deputy Erich Watson was arraigned for official misconduct, custodial sexual misconduct and possession of cocaine after it was discovered he was involved in a "relationship" with an inmate. Though the specifics of his interactions with the inmate include "gifts," coffee, and a single kiss in October, there may be more to this story. Watson admitted to cocaine use (Oregonian, February 22). Giusto fired Watson and is now considering unpaid, rather than paid, leave for Deputies taken off duty for crimes that "threaten their certification" (Oregonian, February 23).

--A few weeks later, Deputy Alexander Wiese was indicted for official misconduct due to a (non- physical) romantic relationship with an inmate. Wiese apparently recognized that he had "crossed ethical lines" and resigned in November (Oregonian, March 22).

--Deputy Susan Lambert-Gates is facing "ethical questions" for arresting a witness who would have testified against a family member in a 2005 eviction case. Internal Affairs Deputies cleared Lambert-Gates of wrongdoing; the District Attorney's office also has information on the case (Willamette Week, January 31).

--Deputy Nick Jarmer sprayed fellow Deputy John Tillinghast in the face with pepper spray and Deputy Brian Flanagan grabbed him by the hair as Tillinghast, in plain clothes, struggled with an unruly inmate. Another Deputy was ordered by a Sergeant to use a Taser on the inmate, ending the fight. Giusto's considering more polo shirts to identify plainclothes deputies and more Tasers for use in the jails. Since Tasers are supposedly an alternative to deadly force, we worry they will be used for compliance and torture, and hope Giusto will reconsider. As for Tillinghast, he said the incident was "exaggerated" and "vigorously defended his coworkers" (Portland Tribune, February 13).

--Multnomah County Commissioners discovered that Deputies are working off-duty security jobs in uniform using their patrol cars, in apparent violation of County policies. Giusto offered to pass private money through the Sheriff's Office, warning that with overhead "it'll just cost more." He defended the $40 an hour jobs (equal to overtime pay) as "within the law and our policy" (Oregonian, February 23).

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