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Friends support Buford in biting incident

Lake Oswego man accused of assaulting a police officer during tree ordinance check
by: VERN UYETAKE  A number of Gary Buford’s friends and supporters were on hand last Friday – many sporting “I Support Gary” yellow buttons – as a hearing was held at the Clackamas County Courthouse for  Buford, above at right center. Through his attorney, Buford, below, rejected a plea bargain deal and a trial date was set for Sept. 27. An avowed opponent of Lake Oswego’s sensitive lands ordinance, Buford is charged with assaulting a police officer along with interference with a peace officer, obstruction of governmental administration, harassment and two counts of resisting arrest.

OREGON CITY - A number of Lake Oswego residents turned out to show support for Gary Buford at a hearing held last Friday at the Clackamas County Courthouse in Oregon City.

The purpose of the hearing was to hear Buford's decision on a proposed plea bargain, which included community service instead of 14 days in jail. Buford and his attorney, David McDonald, rejected the plea bargain deal offered by prosecutor Lewis Burkhart.

Circuit Judge Robert D. Herndon set a trial for 9 a.m. Sept. 27.

'Gary's exercising his right for a trial and we're going to take it because he's not guilty,' said McDonald.

Buford, 72, is accused of assaulting a police officer during an April 14 check for tree code violations on his Lake Oswego property. Little is known about the physical confrontation that occurred; however, Buford was charged with biting a Lake Oswego police officer on the arm.

In addition to the assault, Buford was charged with interference with a peace officer, obstruction of governmental administration, harassment and two counts of resisting arrest. This all occurred after city staff members responded to a possible illegal tree cutting.

'Hopefully this trial will give people a better idea of what's happening in the city of Lake Oswego,' said Buford, a vocal opponent of the city regulation of environmentally sensitive lands.

Despite its brevity, the hearing saw a number of people sporting yellow 'I Support Gary' buttons. These were Gary's neighbors and friends who came out to show support.

'I'm not saying it didn't happen, but it's very out of character,' Lisa Vopel of Lake Oswego said.

Whether or not Buford is guilty remains to be seen. Residents will have to wait for the Sept. 27 court date. Until then, Buford can take solace in the fact that many of his neighbors and friends think highly of him despite his indictment.

'He's a good guy who puts his neighbors first,' Dave Sengenberger, another Lake Oswego resident, said. 'These are unusual circumstances.'

In addition to the criminal charges, Buford is accused of cutting down 11 trees at his property on Camelot Court without the required city permits, and he has declined to pay $5,983 in enforcement and restoration fees.

He pleaded not guilty to the violations earlier this month but is not yet scheduled for another municipal court appearance.