Discovery of bank deposit bag and its contents in locked file prompts review

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - A bank bag found in a locked file cabinet inside Scappoose Police Chief Douglas Greisens office contained a range of receipts, evidence form a 2009 court case, about $2,500 in cash, and deposit slips from an unauthorized bank account. An estimated $28,000 flowed through that account over the past decade.Scappoose Police Chief Douglas Greisen is the focus of a third city investigation following the discovery of a bank deposit bag containing cash and information related to an unauthorized account in his office that was locked inside a desk drawer, city officials confirmed.

The bank deposit bag was found as Greisen is serving a paid leave of absence and contained about $2,500 in cash, a range of receipts, evidence from a 2009 investigation involving an embezzlement case at Michael Curry Design in Scappoose and deposit slips from a bank account set up outside of the city’s budget.

Over the last decade, current and former city officials estimate $28,000 flowed through that account, which is believed to have originally been set up for reserve officers in 2002.

The account was closed in 2012, according to city officials who have knowledge of the case. Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge confirmed there is an investigation into the discovery of the bank bag and Greisen’s possession of it.

A certified forensic investigator contracted through the membership-based Local Government Personnel Institute — the agency that is exploring claims Greisen ran a hostile workplace — is investigating the case, said former Scappoose City Manager Jon Hanken. A LGPI investigator, who is also a former Salem Police Department homicide detective, earlier found Greisen had violated city policy in his handling of a Feb. 4 police FILE PHOTO - Greisen

Discovery of the bank deposit bag and its contents is significant as it raises questions about whether the chief was maintaining an unauthorized account for revenue deposits and withdrawals, an action which is against Oregon’s Local Budget Law. Violations of the law could be grounds for a civil lawsuit against the public official who spent money without following the law, according to the Oregon Department of Revenue website. The website indicates arrests in such cases are unlikely.

Hanken had contacted Columbia County District Attorney Stephen Atchison about the discovery, though there is no indication at this time Greisen is suspected for criminal activity.

In an email exchange between Scappoose councilors and Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge, Scappoose City Councilor Barbara Hayden wrote she would rather not spend city dollars on another investigation into the police department.

“Why can’t the chief come before council to explain what the money was for and why it was in his desk rather than spend even more money on another investigation?” she wrote. “I can only imagine what our legal bills are to date and what we have paid LPGI. In fact I would like to have that information given to council. We don’t have a bottomless supply of money.”

Greisen is currently on paid leave following allegations he retaliated against a Scappoose Police Department sergeant who had brought to light concerns Greisen negligently managed a police pursuit in February. An independent investigator confirmed those allegations, resulting in former City Manager Jon Hanken placing Greisen on a 10-day unpaid suspension. The City Council accepted Hanken’s resignation Friday, Nov. 8, and Hanken later said he believed the council intended to fire him for following through on the allegations Greisen was running a hostile workplace. Several on the council have admitted to being friends with Greisen.

Lt. Norm Miller, who is the commanding officer as Greisen is on leave, found the bank bag while searching Greisen’s office for a badge to swear in a new officer, Hanken said.

Much of the money in the bank bag was contained in envelopes labeled, “Doughnut Day.” One envelope was labeled, “2011 Doughnut Day... $300” and contained $400, Hanken said.

The Scappoose Police Department has been holding Doughnut Days for years, a fundraiser that involves the police department’s purchase of doughnuts for resale to raise money for the Columbia Pacific Food Bank.

Hanken said the city has no account of the donation money generated from the fundraiser.

Money was also contained in folded slips of paper labeled, “Bicycle Helmet Donation.” In some instances, Scappoose Municipal Court directs offenders to pay donations for the purpose of buying bicycle helmets in lieu of fines. Hanken said checks delivered to the police department for the purpose of purchasing helmets did not post in approved city accounts for such purposes.

Hanken said deposit slips from JP Morgan Chase Bank and Washington Mutual, which had been purchased by JP Morgan Chase in 2009, suggest Greisen was using an unauthorized bank account since all of the city’s accounts are with US Bank.

“If any other officer had been caught using an unauthorized account, they would’ve been fired on the spot,” Hanken said.

Other receipts within the bag showed purchases of a $65 tree from Target and a $179 grill from Lowe’s.

Hanken said he did not know where the $28,000 that is estimated to have passed through the unauthorized account originated, but speculated some of it came from a $20 fee attached to testing for new officers. That fee, too, should have posted to the city’s books, though it did not, Hanken said.

“All books, under Oregon law, need to be reviewed,” Hanken said, adding that the money within the Chase bank account was not accounted for by the city.

Greisen did not return a phone call for comment.

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