Sharon Friedle wishes she'd never heard of Roger Pollock.
Pollock, a big-time real-estate developer and sometime Republican fundraiser, hired the 68-year-old Friedle in June to do specialized painting on his home—a Mediterranean-style, 20,000-square-foot riverfront palazzo in Lake Oswego.He had made his home a showpiece and wanted Friedle to add Old World charm to his house, which has a real-market assessed value of $4.3 million and has among its highlights a basketball-hoop-festooned ballroom.
Friedle, having coming out of retirement to make extra money after her husband suffered a stroke and could no longer work, took the job with Pollock. She uses durable nontoxic color pigments from Europe in her work, washing walls in a style known as faux painting.
Because Friedle has arthritic hands, she farmed out the painting to other artists, and did only the detail work herself.
After two months of work, she says, Pollock came in, screamed that she'd ruined a multimillion-dollar home, and ordered her off his property.
"He said, 'This is the last time I have a woman on the job site,''' Friedle says.
He had already paid for materials, Friedle says, but now refused to pay for her work.
She filed in Clackamas County small-claims court seeking the $4,200 she was owed. Pollock upped the ante: He countersued for $20,000, saying she had ruined his walls and now he had to do extensive repainting.
Pollock also disputes Friedle's account, saying he never fired her, and that she left on her own without finishing the work. "When somebody lives up to their contract and does what they promised, there's no dispute," Pollock says.
Friedle says she's had no other complaints about her work; several clients contacted for this story gave her high praise.
Friedle, who couldn't afford attorney's fees, says she plans to appeal to Pollock's attorney to drop both suits.
Pollock and his business, Buena Vista Custom Homes, have been the subject of admiring profiles in The Oregonian and the Portland Business Journal.
In September, Builder—the magazine of the National Association of Home Builders—named Buena Vista the fastest-growing homebuilding business in America.
Pollock has also appeared in less flattering circumstances in Willamette Week. He was featured in a cover story ("In the Name of the Father," Jan. 24, 2001) as the buyer of a since-unloaded business that supplied overpriced sculptures to charity auctions in return for a split of the proceeds.
Again that year, in "Tarnished" (July 25), WW reported he had been indicted on accusations that he tried to put Ecstasy in the drinks of two women he met at Dante's.
The drug rap was finally resolved this month when Pollock pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of MDMA (Ecstasy). He was sentenced to 24 months' probation and agreed to contribute $10,000 to the Multnomah County Drug Court Trust Fund. The district attorney dropped the felony possession, delivery and assault charges, largely because the victims had moved on and didn't want to go through with the trial.
At his sentencing, Pollock persuaded the court that harsher treatment would put a crimp in his ability to do good works—he makes a contribution to charity for each house he sells, and says he has given $300,000 to charities this year.
But none of that matters to Friedle, who says she was frightened by the 44-year-old Pollock. "He didn't touch me but was very close to me," Friedle says. "It was scary."