A racketeering trial scheduled to begin next week weaves the well-worn story of a meth-fueled identity theft into a melodrama of desperation, sex and cold-blooded violence.
What distinguishes the trial of Mark Lee Hudgens is the victim, Douglas Swanson, a prominent local lawyer who police say was killed last year when Hudgens' friends Stuwart Lueb and Lydia Way lured him into a trap of sex for money.
Hudgens is accused of creating at least 18 counterfeit checks in the fall of 2004, including several written on the account of Swanson's law firm.
The case starting Nov. 7 in Multnomah County Circuit Court also will offer a small window into a growing local sex trade that is less visible, and perhaps more dangerous, than streetwalking.
Police believe most prostitution in Portland begins over phone lines and Internet connections, and not along strips like 82nd Avenue, where women peddle their wares in the open.
The secrecy of the business makes it harder for police to investigate, and more dangerous for both customers and sex workers.
On the evening of Oct. 19, 2004, Swanson and his wife had attended a teacher conference for their 12-year-old son at Sunnyside Environmental Middle School. They left in separate cars, and Swanson told his wife he planned to log a few late hours at his downtown office.
When he failed to return home or show up for a 9 am meeting at work the next day, his wife reported him missing. That evening, two Portland police officers spotted Swanson's Subaru Legacy in Northeast Portland.
The driver, Lueb, told police he'd gotten the car from someone named Mark. The car's contents included methamphetamine, a glass pipe and a leather-bound planner that contained $200 in cash and scraps of paper with Swanson's name and bank-account information. Hudgens, Lueb and Way were methamphetamine users, prosecutors say.
According to court documents, police believe Way lured Swanson to her apartment with the promise of sex after he called the number of a chat line he had found on the Internet.
Police say Lueb had followed and attacked the 51-year-old lawyer, tying him up and beating him until he turned over his bank-account information. Swanson was eventually left tied to a tree in the Mount Hood National Forest. It is unclear whether he died alone in the woods or some time earlier.
Court documents allege that Hudgens, 33, had been making fake checks for several weeks before the Swanson murder.
In the early morning hours of Oct. 20, authorities say, Hudgens accompanied Lueb in Swanson's car to buy check-writing software with Swanson's credit card at the Gateway Office Depot.
Police suspect Swanson's body may have still been in the car at the time of the Office Depot visit. Hudgens is also accused of attempting to destroy evidence of the crime after his friends were arrested in the days following Lueb's leading police to Swanson's body.
Lueb and Way are expected to go on trial for the killing early next year.