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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Police Chief On Hold as FBI Moves In

Canby puts police chief on paid leave while inquiry goes on
The Oregonian by Kathleen Glanville - November 17, 2008 

Michael Lloyd/The Oregonian-FBI agents search the house and vehicles of a Canby businessman in connection with an investigation into steroid abuse by former Canby Officer Jason Deason. Canby's city administrator placed Police Chief Greg Kroeplin on paid leave Monday, a day after an Oregonian story detailed FBI allegations that he concealed or failed to investigate steroid abuse by one of his officers. Canby ordered an "independent, third-party" to carry out a personnel investigation into the federal allegations, the statement says. "The city of Canby takes seriously any allegation of employee misconduct," City Administrator Mark Adcock said in a prepared statement. "The city understands the importance that the community maintains the trust in the integrity of the Canby Police Department that it has worked so long and hard to earn over the years." Canby police Lt. Jorge Tro, 41, will serve as acting chief. The FBI launched a public corruption investigation in February, which led to the resignation of Canby Officer Jason Deason on July 17. Federal authorities allege that a cozy relationship between Kroeplin and Deason enabled Deason to buy steroids on the job, and in uniform, according to multiple search warrant affidavits filed in U.S. District Court. Further, federal agents contend Kroeplin and Canby police supervisors either failed to address the problem or concealed its existence, according to the court documents. In July 2006, a neighboring police agency gave Kroeplin a two-page memo detailing an informant's tip that he saw Deason in uniform, riding his police motorcycle to buy steroids from Brian Jackson, then a strength and conditioning coach for Oregon City High School's girls basketball team.

Kroeplin allegedly brushed off the tip as unsubstantiated rumor. He also didn't mention that Deason, who had just separated from his second wife, was his housemate at the time, according to court documents. In the course of the FBI investigation this summer, federal agents said Kroeplin failed to respond fully to their subpoenas to turn over the entire contents of Deason's personnel file. FBI agents returned to the city of Canby to inquire, and learned from the city's human resources director, Amanda Klock, that the city had turned over all documents kept in City Hall, but that the police chief kept additional documents in his office. At the human resource director's urging, Kroeplin opened a file in his office and started removing more documents, according to a federal affidavit. "On Aug. 4, 2008, six months after CPD Chief Greg Kroeplin pledged his department's full support and cooperation to the FBI in its investigation targeting Deason's alleged criminal activities, Chief Kroeplin surrendered to the FBI a copy of a memorandum written two years earlier, in July 2006, which identified Brian Jackson as Deason's steroid supplier," a federal affidavit says. Kroeplin, 48, did not return calls on Monday. The FBI investigation is continuing. No charges have been filed.

The city of Canby hasn't selected an outside agency to conduct a further investigation. "It's my understanding that the FBI would be involved in a criminal investigation but does not get involved in administrative personnel investigations," Klock said. "We're researching our available options to select someone with no affiliation or relationship with any of the parties involved." Canby police had received complaints about Deason's alleged steroid use as early as 2001, federal documents show. According to interviews, the FBI alleged that Deason was tipped off to a 2001 internal Canby police investigation by his then-sergeant, Kroeplin. Kroeplin has led Canby's 24-member police force since January 2006. He was hired in February 1980 as a patrol officer. He was promoted to sergeant in April 1997, to lieutenant in November 2001, and named interim chief in January 2006 after former Chief Ken Pagano retired. Adcock, the Canby city administrator, appointed Kroeplin to be Pagano's replacement in February 2006, deciding to forgo outside recruitment. "I'm concerned," Canby Council President Walt Daniels said Monday. "That's why we're having the FBI look into it. It's in the hands of the FBI. I don't want to jeopardize the investigation."-- Maxine Bernstein:

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