Former WCSO employee charged for sending unauthorized email
A former Washington County Sheriff's Office employee is facing criminal charges for allegedly using the agency's computer system last year to send an inflammatory email to the Sheriff's Office's entire email list.
The email called on Sheriff Pat Garrett to resign and accused him of allowing unchecked racism within the Sheriff's Office's rank and file.
It contained a screenshot and link to a jail video, which showed a deputy shoving an inmate by the neck into a wall in the jail's booking area in 2018.
Rylan Keith Albright, 33, has been charged with one count of identity theft and three counts of computer crime in connection with the June 11, 2020, incident, according to an indictment filed June 4 in the Washington County Circuit Court, which was first reported by The Oregonian/OregonLive.
Deputy Brian van Kleef, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, confirmed Tuesday, June 29, that Albright worked in the public affairs unit of the agency for three years before leaving on his own months before the incident.
He was a non-sworn senior program educator, van Kleef said, serving as a liaison between the Sheriff's Office and community groups and residents.
Albright allegedly intended to access the Sheriff's Office's computer system and use the agency's identification for his own use as part of a scheme to defraud, the indictment says.
It also says Albright allegedly altered, damaged and destroyed computer data and documentation without authorization.
The Portland Police Bureau is investigating the case because the Washington County Sheriff's Office was the victim of Albright's alleged crimes, van Kleef said.
Lt. Greg Pashley, a spokesman for Portland Police, said investigators are working with the Washington County District Attorney's Office on the case.
Neither agency shared details about the case because the investigation is ongoing.
Portland Police obtained a search warrant and searched Albright's home in January, seizing all his electronic devices, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
Albright's attorney Mark Cogan said Tuesday, June 29, that he couldn't comment on his client's alleged conduct because he had not yet been provided documents related to the case.
"When the entire story is known, we believe that his conduct will be seen in a very positive light," Cogan said. "His motivations, from my understanding, were to expose racism and police brutality within the Sheriff's Office."
The unauthorized email appeared to be part of the Sheriff's Office's newsletter, with the subject line reading "WCSO News: Pat Garrett Must Resign."
The body of the email read, "The Washington County Sheriff's Office has failed to inform its community members of rampant and unchecked racism within its rank-and-file. In response to multiple credible accusations of racism, Sheriff Garrett and his team have opted to protect their violent deputies over their communities of color. They have chosen propaganda over transparency. Deflection over honesty."
At the bottom of the email was a message reading, "'Washington County Sheriff's Office' LOL, right, ok, like u actually believe it. Any actual cop would never speak truth to power like this. This is obviously a parody."
Shortly after the email went out, the Sheriff's Office issued a statement saying the email list had been hacked and incorrect information was shared.
"The information contained in the fake email is inflammatory and does not further the conversation or help the frustration and concerns our community is feeling in regard to police brutality and race relations," the statement read.
Hours later, the Sheriff's Office sent out another email, which stated the unauthorized email went to more than 35,000 people.
It containing a video of Garrett apologizing for the unauthorized email.
"We sincerely apologize for today's earlier email hack," read a message below the video of Garrett. "We once again have control and we know that no other systems or accounts were hacked. Thank you to everyone who sent supportive messages during the interim."
The unauthorized email was sent less than two weeks after the Sheriff's Office suspended deputy Rian Alden for allegedly sending a racist email in 2003 before he worked at the Sheriff's Office.
Days later, the Washington County District Attorney's Office reopened an investigation into Alden related to his use of force against Albert Molina in 2018.
The screenshot contained in the unauthorized email came from a video of the use of force incident on Molina at the jail, where Alden worked.
The video showed Alden slamming Molina against the booking area wall before taking him to the ground and restraining him.
Alden has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges related to the incident, including single counts of first-degree official misconduct and unlawful use of a weapon and two counts of second-degree assault. He is currently on paid leave.
The Washington County Board of Commissioners separately authorized the county to settle a civil lawsuit filed by Molina for $625,000.
Molina was hospitalized after the use-of-force incident, suffering from a brain bleed, skull fractures and other traumas, his attorneys said.
He had been arrested in March 2018 for riding his bike while intoxicated.
Albright is expected to be arraigned on his charges in the Washington County Circuit Court on July 8.
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