Two Oregon Firefighters Charged With Computer Crimes

Two Oregon firefighters are facing criminal charges for allegedly illegally accessing emails of other members of the department.

Jason Arnold and Jeff Ruthardt of the Sunriver Fire Department are facing numerous charges including conspiracy, computer crimes, official misconduct, and illegally obtaining contents of a communication. Arnold, who had been the president of IAFF Local 4262, was terminated earlier this year. Ruthardt is currently on administrative leave.

The pair are accused of accessing emails over several months beginning in January, 2015. The emails included those of Fire Chief Art Hatch, and were related to labor relations.

Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel announced the charges in a press release issued November 20, 2015. Quoting from the press release:

  • Jason Arnold, a former Firefighter/Paramedic and former President of the firefighters’ labor association faces 69 counts of Computer Crime, Obtaining Contents of Communication, Criminal Conspiracy , and Official Misconduct in the First Degree.
  • Former Sunriver Fire and Rescue Captain Jeff Ruthardt, who is a current Sunriver Firefighter/Paramedic faces four counts total, including two counts of Criminal Conspiracy, Interception of Communication, and Official Misconduct in the First Degree.
  • The charges are based on an investigation by the Sunriver Police Department that uncovered evidence that the suspects illegally accessed confidential emails of Sunriver Fire Department employees, including Fire Chief Art Hatch.
  • The Sunriver Police Department was assisted by The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and the Bend Police Department. The confidential emails concerned employee matters, including among other things, labor negotiations.
  • The incidents occurred over the course of several months, beginning in January 2015. The investigation is ongoing and additional charges may result

More on the story.

Here is a copy of the press release: Sunriver_Fire_Department_Employees_Charged_with_Crimes_11.20.15

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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