A local charity organization has discontinued its support of a Lake Oswego man after reports emerged that he would soon be standing trial for theft in Clackamas County.
The Charity Group Foundation announced it would no longer accept donations for Gregory Gates after charity leaders learned Gates would go on trial for alleged theft from a Lake Oswego business. The trial date has been set for July 16 in Clackamas County Circuit Court.
The charity revoked its support after a story about the Gates family appeared on the front page of the Lake Oswego Review in the June 12 edition. The Charity Group Foundation was seeking to raise money for members of the Gates family in order to help them avoid foreclosure on their Lake Oswego home.
The amount needed was $200,000, and the effort to save the home came in the wake of the death of Gates' wife, Patrice Gates, on May 27.
Immediately following the appearance of the article, calls were made from private individuals to The Charity Group Foundation and the Review, notifying them of the charges against Gates.
Sal Parisi, co-director of The Charity Group Foundation, said the organization declined to make a statement about this situation.
'We are not accepting donations on behalf of the family at this time, although that situation could change,' Parisi said. 'I have no specific knowledge of his situation or information on specifics, so I cannot make a judgment. On a personal level, I still support him.'
Parisi originally pitched the idea of doing the story to the Review.
Gates expressed regret at the action taken by The Charity Group Foundation, although he said he understood why the charity pulled its support.
'I appreciate their initial support,' Gates said, 'and I understand why they are dropping support if they think there was an impropriety.'
Gates said that he did not mention the upcoming trial to representatives of the foundation or to the Review because he was in mourning after his wife's death and that it did not occur to him that the information was important.
'I didn't even think about it,' he said.
Court documents relating to the case state that Gates has been indicted on six counts of theft from Healthy Pet Store, a business located on Boones Ferry Road in Lake Oswego, allegedly committed during 2007. All counts were reported to be theft of money in the value of $750 or more.
Of his pending case, Gates says that he is innocent of the charges.
Gates said that his late wife admitted to taking $4,000 from Healthy Pet Store. The case against Patrice Gates was dismissed by Clackamas County Circuit Court.
'I don't think I am guilty. In fact, I know I'm not guilty,' Gates said. 'I want the truth to come out.
'I am pleading not guilty, period. Lots of stuff will come out in the trial. We will let the legal system do what the legal system does. I have nothing to hide.'
While maintaining his innocence of the charges, Gates did say he was disappointed in the chain of events following the publication of the story.
'I thought you were innocent until proven guilty in this country,' Gates said. 'Now my family has been hurt even worse. We have so much going on here, especially losing my wife.'