Terry Bean lawyer arrested on computer crime charge
Former Multnomah County prosecutor Derek Ashton was arrested Wednesday morning in connection with his representation of prominent activist and political donor Terry Bean in a 2015 sex abuse case.
Ashton was booked at 9:09 a.m. Oct. 30, into Multnomah County jail in connection with a Lane County warrant on suspicion of violating Oregon's computer crime statute, according to county records.
Portland police worked with the Lane County district attorney to investigate whether Ashton, now a prominent Portland defense lawyer, paid a victim in Bean's case to make it go away. The earlier case, prosecuting the prominent Democratic donor and gay marriage activist over an alleged hotel-room encounter with a 15-year-old boy in Eugene, collapsed when the victim could not be located to testify.
Portland police reopened the criminal investigation of Bean late last year, which led to new charges against him in Lane County. Ashton, who defended Bean in both prosecutions, has denied wrongdoing by either one of the two men.
Bean is now represented by Steve Sherlag, another Portland defense lawyer.
Under the computer crime statute, any use of a computer for "devising or executing any scheme or artifice to defraud" is a Class C felony.
Ashton also faces an ethics probe opened Sept. 4 by the organization that oversees lawyers, the Oregon State Bar.
Case fueled speculation
The collapse of the 2015 prosecution of Bean has long fueled suspicions in legal circles. It came after a judge rejected a proposed civil compromise in which Bean would have paid the alleged victim $220,000 to make the criminal charges go away.
Despite the judge calling such a payment inappropriate, the victim refused to testify and Bean paid the victim anyway, ostensibly to settle a potential lawsuit. While a civil compromise is legal in certain types of criminal cases in Oregon if a judge approves it, bribing a witness is a crime.
In late August, as first reported by the Portland Tribune, new documents were filed in the renewed Bean prosecution alleging new evidence showed the appearance of bribery and what appeared to be a close collaboration between Bean's lawyer, Derek Ashton, and the lawyer for the alleged victim, known as "M.S.G.," to keep him from testifying in a 2015 trial.
"Let's finish these guys," Ashton wrote to M.S.G.'s then-lawyer on the brink of a hearing in an Aug. 26, 2015, text message, according to court records.
To avoid police tracking down the alleged victim for purposes of making him testify in the 2015 case, M.S.G.'s lawyer, Lori Deveny, worked with her friend, Deanna Wray, to hide him in Wray's family cabin in a remote location in Oregon, according to an affidavit. The effort involved a "burner" cell phone and the disabling of a rental car's "LoJack" tracking device.
In February, the Portland Tribune first reported that a legal assistant to Wray, learning of the renewed proseuction, had recently gone to her then-firm to allege she was part of a "plan to conceal" a key witness in the earlier Bean case.
Ashton, who was a Multnomah prosecutor from 1987 to 2002, defended then-Portland Police Chief Larry O'Dea after he shot a friend while on a camping trip.
Quality local journalism takes time and money, which comes, in part, from paying readers. If you enjoy articles like this one, please consider supporting us.
(It costs just a few cents a day.)