Oregon inmate indicted on murder charges

Inmate indicted on murder

James Samuel DeFrank, Jr. appeared in Malheur County Court Wednesday via video from the Snake River Correctional Institution, according to court sources. He’s charged with murder in the death of fellow inmate Chris Soren Lange.

DeFrank was convicted of murder in Multnomah County back in 1990 for the death of a Vietnamese immigrant during a robbery gone wrong.

Lange’s beating and subsequent death occurred in May but only came to light in August after another incident at Snake River in which an inmate was shot and wounded by a corrections officer.

I asked Jeanine Hahn with the Oregon Department of Corrections Public Affairs department about the agency’s policy on releasing information about inmate deaths.

This was her response: “The Department does not have a policy that speaks specifically to releasing information about inmate deaths, but it is our practice to be transparent on inmate issues and incidents that would be of interest to the media and the public. In this case our office missed the release. There was quite a bit of time between the actual assault and inmate Lange’s death, and our office was involved in several projects during the May/June timeframe, and we truly just missed it. I take full responsibility for this oversight. As soon as the media/we realized the error, we have attempted to communicate as much information about the incident as possible without compromising the integrity of the investigation.”

See the grand jury indictment against James DeFrank here.

Fake Doctor Arrest

This is one of those days when I have so much more to report than the minute-30 I’m given within our local newscast.

My report:
http://www.katu.com/news/local/124465354.html

I watched today as Lucas Ebert, just 21 years old, faced a judge on charges of theft and criminal mistreatment. He’s accused of tricking a Beaverton woman into thinking he was plastic surgeon at OHSU who could do the gastric bypass surgery she’s desperately been wanting for years.

I watched as he tried to control the situation from the Inverness Jail. Sometimes defendants appear on video from the jail, as was the case today. He seemed keenly aware of the media presence in the room, and made it a priority to ask the judge, former U.S. Attorney Karin Immergut, to remove the pool camera there to record the proceeding.

That’s a moment in which, as a video journalist, your stomach turns. You kinda need that video to make a television news story happen. Luckily, in this case, Judge Immergut told him the unique circumstances that call for the removal of a camera didn’t seem to apply.

I noted with interest that the attorney Ebert retained was Russell Barnett, not present. See, Barnett was busy across the street in the Multnomah County Courthouse, defending Brian Cole against murder in the death of his wife, Mallory. A conversation he had with our reporter covering the Cole case confirmed his representation of Ebert, but Barnett refused to discuss finances. He also said, “There are some charges against clients like Mr. Ebert that you don’t accept a check for.”

It’s fascinating to go digging into someone’s recent past and discover their missteps.

As I talked with employees of the Carr Chevrolet in Beaverton, I learned the details of their encounter with this Luke Ebert. The sales manager, Scott Chauvet, tells me Ebert’s mother got hurt in the front of their store last year, an accident that broke her ankle. She wound up buying a car from them.

Chauvet says Ebert showed up a month ago, telling them his mom was back in the hospital after a bad car accident that broke the same ankle and she needed a new car. He says Ebert picked out a used car, a Cadillac SUV, and left saying he wanted to discuss it with his mom. Chauvet claims Ebert wanted to write one his own checks to the dealership and transfer money from her account to his.

The dealership’s efforts to verify this information Ebert’s mother fell through. They eventually learned from the bank the account didn’t exist. The original check was for $39,000. Chauvet says Ebert showed up with another check, this time from his mother’s bank account bearing her signature. He wrote that check for $42,000 — this time including as part of the deal an extended warranty for the SUV.

Chauvet says they sent a sales person to the address, who had Lucas Ebert on the phone as he drove to the house, with Ebert telling him was at his job as a surgical tech assisting with operations.

As the sales associate pulled up to the house, Chauvet says Lucas pulled past him and didn’t see him.

When they finally got ahold of his mother, at her job, she was shocked to learn what her son had pulled off. She was in good health, not in the hospital. When she’d kicked her son out of her house the week before, she told Carr Chevrolet, she’s given him a signed check to pay for a week’s worth of motel rent.

According to Chauvet, Ebert told the dealership’s sales associates he was in school to become a doctor, and was assisting with cosmetic surgeries. Also that he was frequenting strip bars. If that’s true, one has to wonder what sort of “services” he was offering strippers?

Appropriate, I suppose, that one of Ebert’s favorite TV shows according to his Facebook page is “Nip and Tuck.”