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July 20th, 2005 Angela Valdez | News Stories
 

THE LONG ARM OF THE LAW

Sheriff Giusto's questionable gambit to intervene in a couple's dispute.

     
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Lee Jeddeloh (left), Bernie Giusto (right).
Last week, WW published a story about the restraining order against Jim Jeddeloh, chairman of Portland's Citizens Crime Commission. Since then, new details have emerged about the unusual role played by Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto.

The story ("Crusader Failure?") detailed how Jeddeloh-who heads the influential anti-crime organization and also served as president of a large local accounting firm, had been banned from his Southwest Hills home after his wife convinced a county judge that he had abused her and might do so again.

WW has now learned that Giusto took an extraordinary interest in the case. According to several sources, the sheriff led a May 6 intervention meeting for Jeddeloh at the Heathman Hotel, threatened him with criminal indictment and even dispatched a sheriff's deputy to escort Jeddeloh to the airport to catch a flight to the Betty Ford Center for alcoholism treatment.

In the past two months, Giusto has appeared at several social events with Jeddeloh's wife, Lee, including her daughter's graduation from Ainsworth Elementary School, a Rose Festival christening of a Sheriff's Office patrol boat and a Gay Men's Chorus concert.

The intervention took place one day after Jeddeloh's wife filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court for a restraining order and a divorce after 13 years of marriage. Her petition referred to violence and threats aimed at her and the couple's two children and her husband's July 2004 arrest for drunk driving in Tualatin.

On May 6, Jeddeloh met his business partner, Cheryl Perkins, in the Heathman for a 7:30 am breakfast. At the restaurant, he ran into Giusto, an acquaintance from Jeddeloh's work on the Crime Commission. The sheriff asked Jeddeloh to meet after the meal.

Jeddeloh found Giusto in the lobby about an hour later. Giusto took him up to the mezzanine floor of the Heathman, where two of Jeddeloh's co-workers, Tim Kalberg and Chris Loughran, stood at a table with Tom Savage, a professional interventionist from St. Louis. Minutes later, Perkins walked in.

After Savage made introductions, Giusto took the lead, telling Jeddeloh that he needed help, and that if he refused to leave immediately for the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., two sheriff's deputies waiting outside would serve him with divorce papers and a restraining order.

Giusto then produced a police report filed by Jeddeloh's wife in July 2004. The report accuses Jeddeloh of threatening his wife in the presence of their children on the night of his drunk-driving arrest.

Giusto told Jeddeloh that District Attorney Michael Schrunk was willing to press charges, and that the incidents described in the police report, because they occurred in front of a child, constituted a felony. According to a source present at the meeting, the sheriff threatened to have Jeddeloh arrested. (Schrunk acknowledges he told the sheriff that the police report left the door open for prosecution.)

According to the source, the sheriff said, "If you go to Betty Ford, I can make these charges go away."

Jeddeloh agreed to go.

Sheriff's Deputy Marshall Ross met the sheriff outside, standing with two other Sheriff's Office employees, Christine Kirk and Sgt. Jason Gates.

Driving a Sheriff's Office patrol car, Ross tailed Jeddeloh's car as he hurried to his office, his home and finally to the airport.

Giusto confirms his role in the intervention with one exception: He denies threatening to have Jeddeloh arrested. He concedes that he has never before participated in an intervention.

Lee Jeddeloh said in a recent interview that she called Giusto in February, after her husband applied for a concealed-weapons permit, and told the sheriff about Jeddeloh's history of violence and alcohol abuse.

Months later, she asked Giusto to participate in an intervention aimed at forcing her husband into treatment.

"We do individual things for individuals, whether they are people of position or not," the sheriff said. "It's not an issue, and I have no qualms."

Giusto and Lee Jeddeloh both maintain that their relationship is an innocent one, close but not romantic.

Phone records obtained by WW show more than 200 calls between Giusto's home, office and cell phone and Lee Jeddeloh's residence beginning as early as March. The records include hourlong late-night conversations and lengthy midday calls.

Whatever the relationship, the sheriff faces discontent from his own staff and other county employees who think he has abused his power.

One deputy, who asked that his name not be used, said there is a perception among many in the Sheriff's Office that Giusto "has manipulated the system for his own reasons."

Jim Jeddeloh was demoted in June from president of the Perkins & Co. accounting firm to shareholder.

 
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