Jail deputy charged with stealing COVID-19 vaccination cards
A Multnomah County jailer has been charged with pilfering several genuine COVID-19 vaccination record cards.
Corrections Deputy Robert James Haney, 50, has pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanors — one count each of first-degree official misconduct and third-degree theft — according to an indictment filed Sept. 29.
The Tribune first revealed the criminal investigation by the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office into one of their own after deputies showed up with a search warrant at the jail guard's home in Battle Ground, Washington.
According to The Columbian, which later obtained the search warrant and a property receipt, authorities found two COVID-19 vaccination cards in a kitchen cabinet inside Haney's home on May 20.
The corrections deputy was placed on administrative leave the same day, and "currently remains in this status," according to a spokesman for Sheriff Mike Reese.
"I am extremely disappointed in the employee's actions," the sheriff said in a statement. "Community trust is the foundation upon which we build our legitimacy as public safety professionals."
Court documents don't specify how Haney allegedly planned to misuse the vaccination cards — but if he considered falsely representing himself as vaccinated, it was all for naught. The Oregon Health Authority issued a legal opinion in September exempting almost all law enforcement officers from vaccine mandates, including the one in effect in Multnomah County.
Some 602 workers, or roughly 81% of the sheriff's office's 747 active employees, have received one or two jabs for protection against the novel coronavirus as of the Oct. 18 deadline set by the governor. None of the unvaccinated personnel are at risk of losing their jobs.
"Our profession's credibility is damaged when any member engages in illegal actions or misconduct," said Sheriff Reese. "While this was an isolated incident, we took action to ensure this will never happen again."
Reese opted to assign MCSO's Internal Affairs Unit and Detective Fred Neiman to probe the case, rather than bring in an outside investigator. And Haney was never taken into custody for a mugshot and formal booking, according to a deputy.
The sheriff's office declined to say why the case was handled that way. Haney was hired by the Multnomah sheriff's office in May 1998.
Christine Mascal, his defense attorney, says she is still awaiting complete grand jury transcripts as part of the discovery process. No trial date has been set.
"It'd be malpractice for me to comment at this stage in the litigation," said Mascal.
Pamplin Media Group journalists Nick Budnick and Chris Keizur contributed to this article.
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