Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer said a theft complaint filed against him is false and that he is withdrawing his resignation.
Gordon Larson alleged in a complaint that Palmer knowingly possessed, or knew the whereabouts of, an engraved fishing pole Larson lost and “failed to take the ethical and lawful appropriate action of retrieving and returning the pole.”
Palmer, who informed Grant County Court Aug. 14 of his intention to resign in a couple months, denied the claim.
“These allegations are false, and my intent to fight them is forthcoming,” Palmer said in a statement on Facebook. “I will be staying on until the end of my term, and as long as this behavior continues, I will continue to seek reelection.”
The Police Policy Committee of the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training will review the complaint and any written information Palmer provides Nov. 21.
Larson, who retired from the Oregon State Police in 2014, said the pole was a retirement gift built and engraved with his name, years of service, the OSP emblem and a golden OSP badge inserted into the handle by OSP Sgt. Tom Hutchison and his son Brandon Hutchison, who later worked as a deputy for the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.
Without the reel, Larson said the pole was worth $500.
Larson said he lost the pole in the John Day River near Kimberly and offered a $200 reward for its return.
Sgt. Hutchison called Larson in summer 2018 and informed him he believed Palmer had, or had knowledge about, the pole after a meeting his son had with Palmer, Larson said.
“(Sgt.) Hutchison told me that Deputy Brandon Hutchison told him that during this meeting Sheriff Palmer made a comment to ‘guess what I have’ motioning to his closet,” Larson said in the complaint. “Sheriff Palmer then tells Deputy Brandon about having my fishing pole and describes it to Deputy Hutchison with clear detail.”
Larson said Palmer told him in April 2019 he did not have the pole, but it was in the possession of Wes Hammond, a friend of Palmer’s from Spray.
“I asked Sheriff Palmer if he knew the pole belonged to me, and he said yes,” Larson said. “I asked why I don’t have it back then. Sheriff Palmer did not reply.”
Larson said he asked OSP to investigate the theft of lost or mislaid property and that Hammond told OSP Trooper Travis Ring he had possession of the pole but gave it to a friend in Texas, who refused to return Ring’s calls.
Palmer was present at the event when the fishing pole was presented, Larson said, and he has a recording of a secondary phone call in which Palmer “acknowledges his interactions with Hammond and admits he did not tell Hammond to return it.”
Larson said it “is likely that at some point Sheriff Palmer was in possession of lost or mislaid property and still refused to fulfill his lawful responsibility as a sworn law enforcement officer and return it to its lawful owner in violation of the code of conduct for police officers.”
Larson said he planned to file a second complaint regarding misuse of public office and use of special deputies to initiate false complaints and documents to obtain a political objective.
Palmer posted Larson’s complaint online with his statement to be transparent, he said.
“It is because of issues such as this, that make me keep fighting for what is right,” Palmer said in the statement. “I have taken an Oath and I will fulfill the Oath and I intend to complete my term as your Sheriff.”