Sizemore faces criminal indictment
- Troy Foster
- Madras Pioneer - News
>The Jefferson County district attorney’s office goes public announcing a warrant for the ex-city administrator’s arrestNews Editor
Feb. 13, 2002 -- Nearly a month after ex-Madras City Administrator Bill Sizemore filed a $1.7 million lawsuit against his former employer and several of its current officials, the Jefferson County district attorney's office fired back Tuesday by announcing it has a warrant out for his arrest.
Sizemore is wanted for two counts of first-degree forgery, one count of tampering with public records and a single count of official misconduct.
A grand jury indicted Sizemore on the charges in August of last year and the warrant has been outstanding since Sept. 7. It remained sealed from public view until Monday, when District Attorney Peter Deuel withdrew its confidential status. Security on the warrant is set at $30,000.
"There's basically four allegations that allege Mr. Sizemore changed some terms in his employment contract which he was not authorized to change," Deuel said.
Meanwhile, Roger Hennagin, a Portland attorney representing Sizemore in his civil suit against the city, called the announcement "highly suspicious."
"It seems somewhat strange to me that this indictment was returned by the grand jury this summer and was not made public until after our lawsuit was filed," Hennagin said. "And there's been no effort to arrest him and notify him of the charge until after the lawsuit."
Deuel said the indictment was kept confidential while the district attorney's office attempted to discover Sizemore's whereabouts. The office first learned that Sizemore resided in California when he filed his lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Jan. 17.
The forgery charges stem from allegations that Sizemore falsely altered his August 8, 2000, employment agreement. The tampering charge alleges that Sizemore substituted a page in his contract. The misconduct charge alleges that Sizemore performed an act that constituted an unauthorized exercise of his official duties with the intent to obtain favorable benefits.
Forgery is a class C felony, carrying a maximum 5-year prison sentence. The tampering and misconduct charges are class A misdemeanors, which carry a maximum 1-year jail sentence each. Individuals convicted on these types of charges, however, typically serve only probationary sentences with limited jail time.
Deuel said he contacted Hennagin last week to advise the attorney that his office was looking for Sizemore. Hennagin told The Pioneer he knows where Sizemore resides but is not authorized to reveal the information to anyone.
"I believe with the amount of time and the issue before the city, I felt that release was now appropriate," Deuel said. "This city has been having to respond to questions."
If the former city administrator is located, the district attorney's office must get authorization from the extradition unit of the Oregon Governor's Office to allow California law enforcement agencies to arrest Sizemore and transport him back to Jefferson County.
Deuel said the city brought their concerns regarding Sizemore's conduct to his desk last February. The case was investigated by Oregon State Police in February, March and April. Evidence was submitted to a grand jury in May.
The announcement of Sizemore's warrant comes at the same time city officials are waiting to be served the former city administrator's lawsuit.
Sizemore's suit claims defamation, unlawful termination and other charges in connection with his firing on Feb. 13 of last year. He is suing the city of Madras, current Mayor Rick Allen, former city attorney Martin E. Hansen, plus four current city councilors and one former councilor. The suit says he is seeking to be reinstated to his former post as city administrator.
Sizemore was fired following months of controversy after it was revealed he had a prior criminal record and had served 27 months in prison for embezzling $430,628 from the Oregon Community Foundation in 1986.
During the fallout, former Mayor Marjean Whitehouse overwhelmingly was defeated by Allen, who ran as a write-in candidate during the 2000 mayoral election. Two city councilors, Lloyd Hindeman and Wayne Schjoll, later were recalled by voters. Whitehouse, Hindeman and Schjoll were accused of knowing of Sizemore's criminal record but concealing it from other city officials and the community.
Sizemore told city officials he would sue if he wasn't given the severance detailed in his contract following his termination. City officials, however, accused him of altering his contract and fired him without severance pay citing several reasons for "cause" as defined in the contract.
Both the suit against the city and the indictments against Sizemore hinge on which party is correctly citing the controlling contract.
Allen said after Sizemore was fired, city officials began their own investigation to get to the bottom of what had happened during the turmoil.
"We went through all the records to see what went on during that tenure of his and we found enough stuff that a probable crime was committed," Allen said. "It was our job to take it to the district attorney and today you see the result of that process."
The indictment alleges that Sizemore, without authorization, removed one provision in his contract and altered two others in an attempt to make it virtually impossible for the city to fire him.
What was left after Sizemore allegedly altered his contract were provisions, Duel said, "that limited the city's ability to terminate or suspend him unless he got convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. It deleted any other basis where the city could terminate or suspend him, which was previously a part of the contract."
Allen, who is singled out in Sizemore's lawsuit against the city, said he hopes the indictment will bring Madras closer to closing the book on this story.
"It should remind us all of the terrific emotional and financial costs this city endured as a result of this fiasco," Allen said. "It should remind us that we should really take voting people into office pretty damn seriously and that elected officials need to know their roles and responsibilities."