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Betz cleared in criminal investigation

Marion County district attorney finds no evidence to charge Newberg city manager

Newberg City Manager Jacque Betz will not face criminal charges from her decision to place Newberg-Dundee Police Chief Brian Casey on administrative leave two weeks ago, Marion County District Attorney Walt Beglau announced Friday morning.FILE PHOTO - Newberg City Manager Jacque Betz will not face criminal charges after an investigation was done by the Marion County district attorney's office.

“Based on the information we currently have, there is no indication of any criminal wrongdoing on the part of Ms. Betz,” Beglau wrote in a release. “No further inquiry into this matter is necessary at this juncture and the Marion County District Attorney’s Office will not pursue any criminal charges at this time.”

The Oregon State Police was asked to investigate allegations of official misconduct and obstructing governmental administration. Beglau’s decision not to file charges comes after his office received the investigative reports from the OSP.

The original allegations against Betz came from several individuals within Newberg city government, Yamhill County District Attorney Brad Berry said Friday morning. The allegations were sufficient, he said, to warrant an investigation and he handed that off to the Marion County district attorney to avoid any possible conflict of interest because Newberg is within the county where he presides.

Now that Betz has been cleared on the criminal allegations, the council may be charged with dealing with possible administrative issues in the Betz administration, Berry said.

He clarified that Beglau’s letter says that there are no current allegations that are actionable against Betz, but that the DA’s office would look into any future allegations should they come forward.

Council President Denise Bacon indicated Friday morning she is glad to hear Betz will not face any charges.

“I didn’t want to think she would do something wrong,” Bacon said.

While she did not know what the schedule would look like, Bacon hoped the City Council would meet sooner than the next scheduled meeting Aug. 17, given the new information. But a subsequent release by the city indicated scheduling issues will prevent an earlier meeting.

The release also indicated the city did not know Betz would be cleared prior to Stone receiving the Friday morning press release from Beglau. The city has requested police reports to learn more about the investigation. Many city officials have maintained they are as in the dark as the public at this point.

“We understand the frustration of our citizens in not knowing what is going on, and frankly we share that frustration,” City Manager Pro Tem Terry Mahr said Friday. “We pledge to share as much as we legally can as soon as we have any information.”

Meanwhile the assessment of the police department is still in the works, with some recent developments in the personnel conducting it.

Betz had initially hired law enforcement consultant Bill Carroll to complete the assessment, interviewing members of the department and reporting the results to the city attorney. That assessment began last week.

In a July 17 email to Betz, Casey voiced his frustration with the situation, part of which was related to his view that Carroll was unqualified to conduct a police department assessment.

“I have no idea what qualified Mr. Carrol to undertake a police department assessment, in view of the fact he has no experience leading or commanding one,” Casey wrote. “This function is generally undertaken by police chiefs of outside agencies at the invitation of a police chief seeking review and input and a fresh perspective.”

Carroll remained the chosen assessor until Casey was taken off administrative leave and returned to work July 24. Between then and July 29 Carroll was removed as assessor based on Casey’s objections.

“In order to conduct an assessment in which all stakeholders’ concerns are addressed and to eliminate that controversy, it was recommended that Mr. Carroll be replaced and a new assessor be selected with the consent and agreement of the city manager pro tem, police chief and union,” Stone said. “We are currently in the process of identifying that individual or organization, a process which has been delayed due to the time of year and vacation schedules.”

Stone did not immediately respond to questions regarding whether Betz had consulted with other stakeholders when Carroll was initially chosen.

Betz has not responded to repeated calls and voicemails since the assessment began two weeks ago., but she broke her silence Friday afternoon via a release from civil attorney Judy Snyder, of Portland, who reiterated the results of the investigation and explained that Betz was acting within her authority when she placed Casey on leave.

“Ms. Betz has consistently maintained that she had not engaged in any misconduct, criminal or otherwise,” the release said.

Reached by phone, Snyder explained that Betz would not be making any statements at this time. She also clarified that Betz was not interviewed as part of the investigation and was not informed as to the allegations made against her.

“No one’s ever interviewed her, no one’s told her what the accusations are,” Snyder said. “We are completely in the dark about what precipitated this investigation, other than placing Casey on leave.”