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Jury convicts ex-Sunriver FD worker of hacking chief's emails

Former union leader accessed info on labor talks

BEND, Ore. - A Deschutes County Circuit Court jury on Friday convicted a former Sunriver Fire Department employee on nearly two-dozen charges, finding Jason Arnold guilty of illegally hacking into into Fire Chief Art Hatch’s confidential email account and accessing documents related to labor relation matters.

The jury convicted Jason Arnold, a former firefighter-paramedic and former president of the firefighters' labor association, of 23 counts of misdemeanor computer crime. Arnold was acquitted of the charge of conspiracy, and the jury was hung on the charge of first-degree official misconduct.

“Criminal acts committed by public employees will not be tolerated in Deschutes County,” said District Attorney John Hummel. “We expect our public employees to work hard for the taxpayers who pay their salary and to comport themselves with the highest ethical standards. If they fail to do so, they will be held accountable.”

Hummel went on to say: “Arnold’s actions are an anomaly. The officers involved in the top-notch investigation, led by the Sunriver Police Department with the assistance of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and the Bend Police Department, are an accurate example of the exemplary public sector employees that well serve Deschutes County residents.”

Arnold is scheduled to be sentenced next Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Former Sunriver Fire and Rescue Capt. Jeff Ruthardt, still a firefighter-paramedic at the time of the two men's indictment in late 2015, also was charged with five counts.

According to online court records, Ruthardt pleaded no contest in May of last year to intercepting wire or oral communications in a deal that included 100 hours of community service at the Central Oregon Veterans Ranch, completed last fall, PTSD treatment in California and testifying at Arnold's trial. A May hearing is set to review his status and possibly dismiss the charges, under terms of the plea agreement.


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