2/11/23 News Update


<<Larry Wenzel, 52, a deputy at the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, was arrested Jan. 31 for allegedly punching and then choking his wife.

He was indicted on charges of felony assault earlier this week, and is currently in Clackamas County Jail. He lives in Gladstone, according to court records.>>

<<Wenzel had been on an “alcoholic binge” for two days when his wife, Laura, finally had enough of the insults and intimidation, prosecutors said. She told him she was going to stay in a hotel.

At that point, she told police, “Wenzel’s face went white and he pushed her to the ground.” He punched her in the face, prosecutors say, put his arms around her neck, and squeezed until she struggled to breathe.

He told her he was going to kill himself. She feared for her life.

“He has access to firearms,” Paul said. “He’s indicated he is suicidal. There’s a real concern that he’s a risk.”

Wenzel has been a sheriff’s deputy in Multnomah County for 25 years. He made headlines in 2017 after he helped federal immigration agents locate and arrest two men on pretrial release under his supervision.

(Both of the arrests came just weeks before Multnomah County commissioners officially declared it a “sanctuary county,” ending law enforcement cooperation with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Wenzel was investigated and cleared of wrongdoing. “At the time of Wenzel’s interaction with ICE, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office had been quietly cooperating with ICE for years,” the investigator wrote.)

Wenzel has had a history of problems with alcohol. He pleaded guilty to a DUII in 2020.

In this case, the judge set bail at $75,000 and ordered Wenzel to have no contact with his wife.>>



<<After the Portland Fire Chief sent out a memo announcing a hiring and spending freeze, KOIN 6 News talked with the head of the firefighter’s union about the impact the freeze will have.

Commissioner Rene Gonzalez, who oversees the fire bureau, said the reason he directed a spending freeze is that the bureau has spent nearly $25 million in overtime this fiscal year and they’re almost over budget.>>

<<The President of the Portland Firefighters Association says the bureau wouldn’t have to pay out so much in overtime if they had more firefighters.

“The fact of the matter is we haven’t seen an increase in the number of firefighters in the last 20 years,” said Isaac McLennan. “The same number of firefighters on duty today (is the same) we had 20 years ago with a significant increase in population in Portland, a significant amount of construction and building in Portland.”>>



<<The Oregon Department of Justice is opening a criminal investigation into allegations that senior officials in the state’s alcohol regulatory agency violated ethics laws by diverting rare, sought-after bourbons for personal use, the state attorney general said Friday.

The officials said they were paying for the whiskey, which can cost thousands of dollars a bottle, but they allegedly used their knowledge and connections at the commission to obtain the products, according to an internal investigation by the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission.

The practice had purportedly been going on for many years and involved not only state employees but also members of the Oregon Legislature, the OLCC investigator was told.

The practice consequently deprived well-heeled whiskey aficionados among the public of the tiny-batch boutique bourbons.

It also violated several Oregon statutes, including one that prohibits public officials from using confidential information for personal gain, according to the commission’s investigation.>>


<<Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced Friday that the Oregon Department of Justice, is opening a criminal investigation into the matter involving ethics violations related to the purchase of liquor by some staff of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC).

It was revealed on Wednesday that the executive director of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, Steve Marks, and five other agency officials were found to have diverted sought-after bourbons, including Pappy Van Winkle’s 23-year-old whiskey, for their own use.

The investigation found that although the officials were paying for the whiskey, which can cost hundreds of dollars a bottle, they were able to obtain them thanks to their connections and inside knowledge at the commission. As a result, the public was denied access to the pricy liquor.

That, according to the commission’s inquiry, violates Oregon laws, including one that forbids public employees from utilizing private information for personal advantage.>>


<<Oregon’s system for regulating the sale of alcohol is convoluted.

Here’s a quick primer on how that system works and how it led to this scandal.>>

<<Oregon heavily regulates when and where liquor can be sold. While beer and wine can be purchased in a supermarket or a convenience store, hard alcohol is sold in liquor stores operated by the state and managed by liquor agents who are selected by OLCC commissioners. There are 248 liquor stores in Oregon distributed throughout the state on the basis of population. The state is in charge of determining how many stores there are, where they are located, purchasing the liquor and distributing it as well. >>

<<For rare bottles, where there is very limited quantity, OLCC holds a “chance to purchase” raffle. The program started in 2018. The odds are dependent on how many bottles are being raffled each year. The OLCC raffles bottles left after sending some to liquor stores, bars and restaurants. The odds of being able to purchase a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, for example, recently was 1 in about 5,000. One liquor store owner, who declined to give his name, noted that liquor store employees are not eligible to enter the raffle.>>



<<Twenty-six years ago, a Portland social justice activist named Craig Rosebraugh moved into the public eye as a spokesman for an eco-terrorism group called the Earth Liberation Front.

That role put him in the crosshairs of the FBI, and this week we’re learning how far the agency went to try to get information about the group out of Rosebraugh. That’s thanks to a New York Times story, ‘The Case of the Eco-Terrorists and the Book Deal,’ authored by Portland-based investigative journalist Bryan Denson.

The Earth Liberation Front (ELF) was a domestic eco-terrorist group responsible for several high-profile arsons beginning in the late 1990s.

That was also the period when Rosebraugh became their spokesman, taking in communiques from the anonymous saboteurs and putting out news releases for them. >>

<<During the visit, Denson said, he raised the idea of doing a longer story with Rosebraugh to hear his tale of what it was like to be the ELF spokesman. That’s when Rosebraugh brought up a fascinating detail: he had dealt with someone who posed as a book editor but was in fact an informant for the FBI.>>

<<As Denson reported in his story, Eringer posed as a book editor and convinced Rosebraugh to write a book about his experience as an ELF spokesman. The FBI was apparently hoping he’d name names, but he didn’t, and eventually Rosebraugh got the sense that something was wrong and canceled the deal.>>