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Former Chief gets 10 days in jail!

Former Nyssa chief convicted of misconduct, sentenced to jail, loses badge

April 3rd, 2024

Ray Rau, Tillamook police chief and former chief in Nyssa, was convicted of official misconduct Wednesday for tampering with evidence.

He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and must give up his certification as a law enforcement officer that he has held since 1995. As a result, he can no longer work as a police officer in Oregon.

Rau turned himself in after court proceedings on Wednesday, April 3, to begin his sentence.

He was chief of the Nyssa Police Department from 2012 until resigning in 2021 to take the Tillamook job. He had been elected to the Nyssa School Board just two months before resigning the city post.

Rau, 57, pleaded no contest in Tillamook County Circuit Court to first-degree official misconduct for removing methamphetamine and second-degree official misconduct for removing money from the evidence locker at the Tillamook agency on two occasions. A no contest plea means Rau wasn't admitting to the crimes but agreed prosecutors could prove he was guilty.

He was convicted of taking the meth and the money from the evidence locker sometime between October 2021 and April 2023 "with intent to obtain a benefit."

But at a hearing in Tillamook County Circuit Court, Rau insisted he had simply made a mistake while trying to protect an evidence technician from harmful exposure to drugs.

"I don't lie and I don't steal," Rau said as he stood before Circuit Judge Sheryl Bachart.

Rau was put on paid leave from his Tillamook job last May as an investigation into evidence tampering got underway. Tillamook County District Attorney Aubrey Olson asked the state Justice Department to handle the matter, resulting in charges against Rau last August.

The investigation prompted Olson to dismiss criminal charges against some defendants and move to vacate convictions against others already found guilty. She has declined to elaborate on the circumstances and didn't respond Wednesday to an email seeking comment.

Tillamook City Manager Nathan George said in an email Wednesday that he was working on gathering information about Rau's status as a city employee. The city website on Wednesday no longer listed Rau as part of the police department's force.

Colin Benson, assistant attorney general who prosecuted Rau, described in court how an evidence technician last April discovered methamphetamine missing. He said Rau told the employee he needed the meth for canine training in Nyssa.

Benson said the employee "doesn't find plausible" the explanation and sent a text message to her supervisor.

According to Benson, Rau explained the evidence circumstance to the supervisor and then to the city manager.

The Oregon State Police audited the evidence lockers at the police department. The audit report has never been released.

Rau was convicted of taking money held in evidence that was taken from a Tillamook woman who had been arrested by city police. Court records didn't specify how much money was taken and Benson didn't address that in his presentation.

Christine Mascal, Rau's attorney, said at the hearing that Rau is "an honest man" who destroyed two crack pipes with "small amounts of fentanyl" that were held by authorities for two "non-prosecutable" cases.

"He did this because he thought he was doing the right thing," she said. "He did the right thing in the wrong way."

She didn't address the meth or the money that were stolen.

Rau picked up the theme of employee safety when he addressed the judge.

He said he destroyed fentanyl on two occasions after hearing officers talk about the drug. He said the fentanyl had been found on the streets.

Rau said the department's evidence technician had just returned from having a baby and he wanted to spare her exposure to the drug.

"I got super protective of my staff and made a mistake," Rau said.

He said he put the fentanyl into a mixture of windshield cleaner and other fluids. He then put that into the trash.

His explanation puzzled the judge. When she asked why he didn't do that with other fentanyl in police possession, Rau said, "I didn't get into that." He said his actions in the two instances were "spur of the moment."

Bachart seemed surprised by the explanation and wondered whether "experts would agree" with his methods. She noted he dumped the mix into the garbage.

"I guess you weren't as worried about the sanitation workers," she said.

She said his explanation that he was trying to protect his staff "doesn't make any sense."

Prosecutors didn't offer their own explanation for Rau's actions.

"I don't think you're here because you did the right thing," the judge noted.

Rau didn't address the theft of the money in his remarks to the judge.

She said his actions put a stain on the Tillamook Police Department at a time when the public already distrusts law enforcement.

"It is a stain and it stays there and does not get removed," Bchart said.

She said the community would demand he face consequences for betraying its trust. She said the community would be watching to see what punishment is given to a police chief who prosecutes others for bad decisions.

Benson, the prosecutor, recommended Rau get 15 days in jail, noting how unusual it is for those convicted of misdemeanors to get such a sentence. Rau's attorney argued against that.

"There is no purpose in this man to serve any jail time," Mascal said.

Rau acknowledged the impact on his agency.

"What I've done embarasses them and that's wrong," he said.

He said he was "completely and utterly broken" by the prosecution and that he now has a disabling medical condition. "I just want to move past this."

Rau started his law enforcement career in 1995 as a corrections officer at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution in Pendleton. He joined the Milton-Freewater Police Department in 1997, subsequently worked for the Sandy Police Department, and then spent eight years with the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. That state agency trains and licenses law enforcement officers.

This story is not getting any better.
Guilty! Vermont State Trooper Stole Evidence.

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