Officials dodge questions over handling of state official’s assault conviction

Ethel Walsh

This story was up to date Tuesday, Jan. 10 at 12:25 p.m. subsequent a response from the Oregon Health Authority.

In Oct, condition officials labored to sleek the retirement of an company govt who was about to plead responsible to assaulting a youngster through an following-faculty plan in Salem.

They authorized Reginald Richardson, 62, to pick his successor as executive director of the point out Liquor and Drug Coverage Commission. They intended to leave him on point out payroll for months at his pay out fee of in excess of $200,000 a calendar year.

But then-Gov. Kate Brown, who appointed Richardson, is now refusing to remedy most issues about the case, which include when they acquired of his criminal behavior.

Oregon Wellbeing Authority Deputy Director Kris Kautz realized of a criminal investigation via a see from the Division of Human Companies on Feb. 25, spokesman Robb Cowie reported. Cowie explained Kautz notified the governor’s office of the investigation.

Brown and Oregon Health Authority officials wouldn’t solution irrespective of whether they knew Richardson experienced moved to Chicago past summer whilst nonetheless keeping his state position.

The silence leaves unanswered whether or not a condition official’s deep political and social connections to those in point out and nearby governing administration shielded him as his felony circumstance unfolded.

Richardson did not answer to a get in touch with and electronic mail from Salem Reporter searching for to focus on the case and his departure from the condition.

The assault occurred Jan. 26, 2022, at the Job Technological Training Heart in northeast Salem in the course of an soon after-university program run by Richardson’s company, Group Studying Institute.

Richardson took an 8-calendar year-aged boy out into a hallway who had disrupted course, grabbing the back of his neck and pushing him into a wall, in accordance to surveillance digital camera video clip. 

“I recklessly triggered bodily injuries,” Richardson would later admit.

The boy claimed the assault to a counselor, who in switch alerted the condition Section of Human Companies.

The point out Division of Justice investigated the assault. But Lawyer Basic Ellen Rosenblum would not launch data of the investigation.

A spokeswoman for the office environment claimed the Justice Division withheld documents at the ask for of Clackamas County District Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the circumstance. She wouldn’t answer no matter if the legal professional basic alerted the governor that a major point out official was below prison investigation.

Rosenblum’s business investigated at the ask for of Salem Police Chief Trevor Womack, who had worked carefully with Richardson on felony justice issues. Richardson served as president of the Salem-Keizer NAACP till he resigned in September.

Marion County District Legal professional Paige Clarkson also recused herself from the situation, asking her counterpart in Clackamas County to prosecute since she served on the state commission managed by Richardson.

A Marion County grand jury in May possibly indicted Richardson on charges of fourth-degree assault and harassment. With the prison demand pending, Richardson remained in demand of an independent agency tasked with enhancing Oregon’s substance abuse treatment and avoidance applications.

A condition choose in June authorized Richardson to leave the condition and dwell in Chicago, according to courtroom data. He later waived extradition.

Condition plan calls for personnel working remotely whole time to document their request in the condition human assets info program. The policy says workers functioning remotely from a different state will be managed on a circumstance-by-situation foundation, and necessitates an evaluation to figure out if out-of-state worker insurance coverage is wanted.

The point out Department of Administrative Services has no document of such an evaluation for Richardson, spokeswoman Andrea Chiapella said.

Community information acquired by Salem Reporter demonstrate that by at the very least July, Richardson was jogging his company remotely, apparently without the need of informing his supervisor. A mortgage organization worker functioning in a suburban Chicago place of work contacted many Oregon state agencies in late June and early July seeking to validate Richardson’s work and that he was working remotely.

That prompted Berri Leslie, the governor’s main of employees and Richardson’s supervisor, to electronic mail Richardson July 6, stating he wasn’t listed in the state’s employee database as a remote worker.

“Can you let me know what your status is and make confident it’s updated in workday?” Leslie wrote, referring to the state’s human sources program. 

Richardson later responded that he had been operating remotely since May perhaps 1, and his workers was as nicely. He did not mention relocating to Chicago.

No one in the governor’s place of work or at the health authority would handle whether or not he sought permission to just take his condition top occupation midway throughout the state.

Email messages from Brown’s business office and the Oregon Well being Authority, attained by Salem Reporter by means of general public records requests, clearly show point out officials were getting ready for Richardson to retire as government director two weeks prior to he pleaded responsible to the assault.

Richardson explained to state officials he planned to retire Nov. 15 but remain on the point out payroll right up until Feb. 1, 2023, to collect his remaining depart, email messages demonstrate.

Salem Reporter asked for from Brown’s office any emails amongst her team and Richardson relating to the assault or ensuing felony scenario. On Jan. 6, the business office unveiled 125 pages of email messages in response. The health and fitness authority unveiled yet another 44 webpages discussing changeover programs for the workplace.

None point out the assault or Richardson’s conviction.

Richardson in late July sought a conference with Brown to update her on the commission’s perform, declaring they hadn’t spoken due to the fact 2020. Emails produced give no indicator no matter if the conference truly took location and with a transition to a new administration, important officers are no longer with the governor’s place of work.

But on Sept. 30, Richardson emailed Christian Gaston, Brown’s spending plan director, indicating he necessary a short simply call “to give you a heads up on an issue” without having disclosing what it was.

Gaston requested for a speak to number, then emailed Richardon on Oct. 3, producing, “I spoke with Berri (Leslie, Brown’s deputy main of team). She agreed that a rotation from OHA would be finest.”

Richardson on Oct. 5 then messaged that he’d spoken to his deputy, Jill Gray, who experienced agreed to provide as interim government director.

“That seems excellent,” Gaston responded.

Thirteen days later, Richardson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor punishable by up to a calendar year in jail and a high-quality of up to $6,250. He paid $1,000 to the boy’s family members. He stated a Chicago deal with in court docket papers.

Cowie stated the Section of Human Products and services notified Kautz, the health authority deputy director, of the responsible plea Dec. 7. Kautz once again notified the governor’s place of work, he claimed.

Brown appointed Richardson to the director career in 2018. Richardson was making $202,476 each year in that part when he left, according to the Division of Administrative Products and services.

He shifted more than from serving as deputy director of the Office of Human Expert services, a position he began in 2015. When he still left that occupation, he was producing $166,224 per calendar year.

Brown’s office environment refused to remedy questions from Salem Reporter about how her business handled info about the assault on the boy, expressing the issue was a “personnel issue.”

Brown fired Richardson on Dec. 12, days immediately after Salem Reporter inquired about his work position. The firing was productive Dec. 15.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the fee still mentioned Richardson on its site as govt director.

Get hold of reporter Rachel Alexander: [email protected] or 503-575-1241.

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