One current and one former Sunriver Fire Department employee accused of illegally accessing co-workers’ emails were arraigned Tuesday in Deschutes County Circuit Court.
Former firefighter and paramedic Jason Arnold, who was also the president of the department’s firefighters union, faces charges of computer crime and illegally accessing the content of communications. He appeared in court with his attorney, Tom Hill, of Bend.
Jeffrey Ruthardt, a current firefighter and paramedic who was placed on paid administrative leave earlier this year, according to Bulletin archives, did not appear Tuesday. Ruthardt, who faces four criminal counts, including criminal conspiracy, interception of communication and official misconduct, is in inpatient treatment until early next year, said his Eugene-based attorney, Greg Veralrud.
The charges are based on an investigation by the Sunriver Police Department, according to Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel. The emails in question reportedly concerned labor negotiations.
Arnold and Ruthardt, who were arraigned separately but consecutively, each must have no contact with the four Sunriver Fire employees named in the district attorney’s charging document and stay at least 1,000 feet away from Sunriver Fire Department buildings.
However, Deschutes County Circuit Judge Randy Miller did not order Ruthardt and Arnold to have no contact with the community of Sunriver.
Deschutes County Deputy District Attorney Eric Taylor had asked the court Tuesday to ban Arnold and Ruthardt from Sunriver.
Taylor said the requested no-contact provision stemmed from allegedly “threatening” text messages the defendants reportedly sent to fire department employees obtained during the criminal investigation.
Hill, Arnold’s attorney, contested that request, arguing the no-contact order with the entire community of Sunriver was too broad. The allegations that his client made such threats, Hill said, were “erroneous and false.”
Arnold and Ruthardt remain out of custody, though the court has required each to be booked and printed. Both men are scheduled to plead Jan. 12.
From The Bend Bulletin