Here you’ll find three riddles, learn about a Teeny Foods baking company, and find out what the fun folks at the Parkrose Business Association are up to these days …

Wayne Stoll, returning president of the Parkrose Business Association warms up the group with three riddles.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
At their last meeting, members of the Parkrose Business Association (PBA) got together to learn from one another, to network – and to hear President Wayne Stoll tell jokes:

Q. What kind of farm animal goes “oooo”?
A. A cow with no lips!

Q. What do baby sweet potatoes sleep in?
A. Their “yammies“!

Q. Why do dogs make such terrible dancers?
A. They have two left feet!

Oh, sure, you groan aloud while you read them – but we suspect that you – like everyone else who laughed during Stoll’s warm-up at PBA’s February 19 meeting – you’ll be repeating them both at the office and at home like many of the meeting’s 35 attendees did.

In other announcements, Stoll announced that the Parkrose Business Foundation scholarship program was underway, and the committee was soliciting applications. He also alerted members the “phony telephone directory” scam being worked in the area – and to individuals who visit offices and retail stores to steal purses and wallets, and to ‘scope’ it out for a burglary.

The Chair of the 2009 Parkrose Festival and Cruise-in, LeeAnn Bruner, asks for members to join her committee, as the group prepares for the August 1 event.

Stepping into the role ably held previously by Marsha Lee of Copy Express, LeeAnn Bruner – owner of LA Signs – was introduced as the new Chair of the Parkrose Festival and Cruise-in, scheduled for August 1. “We’re already working to have raffle items donated and redesigning the Festival site, and we will be promoting the event using ‘Facebook.com’,” Bruner said.

The owner of Parkrose-based Teeny Foods, Rick Teeny, tells how the banking debacle has stunted the growth of his Teeny business.

Member Moment: Teeny Foods
Teeny Foods, said president Rick Teeny, is a 44-year old-company based in the Parkrose area that has had record volume growth.

“I would have brought samples,” Teeny said, “but I just came from a meeting with our bankers. Although we show good growth and have [decades of] good credit, we’re struggling to get credit. We’ve had a record year; our volume is up 50% over the prior year, and is growing this year – but we still can’t get funding. Bankers say they want to loan money, but tell us, straight up, they are not lending at this time.”

A recent, in-depth inspection by the American Institute of Baking gave Teeny’s facility a grade of 935 points of a possible 980, the second-generation baker reported with pride. “An inspector told us that our company is ‘well positioned’ compared to other facilities in terms of production, and especially sanitation.”

The Teeny Foods plant, located at NE 172nd Avenue and Sandy Boulevard, is equipped to handle about ten times the volume it now produces, he added.

Nevertheless, Teeny said, he’s frustrated with all of the TARP money being doled out, and the promises to help stimulate the country. “This isn’t real; it’s surreal. We could grow by 25% a year, but we’ll have to limit growth to 10%, because the banks simply aren’t lending.”

Asked about his recommendation for business owners, Teeny said, “Save some cash; if you’re are making money today, bank it. I don’t think our ‘rainy days’ are here yet. We may be in for two or three years of ‘bad weather’ ahead!”

Certified Public Accountant Rick Harris talks about taxes.

Tax information imparted
Tax tips from Rick Harris, CPA, were next at the meeting.

“Things are really difficult,” Harris began. “I do a lot of work for non-profits and they are really hurting right now.”

Harris said there weren’t many major changes in the tax code this year. “Depreciation will be a little faster, and there will be some minor changes in retirement plans.

“The ‘First Time Homeowner Credit’ is new, he said. “Created because of the downturn in the housing market.  New buyers will be given a tax credit,  in the form of direct relief,  up to 10% of the cost of the home, up to $8,000. Before, you had to pay it back over 15 years. Now, if you stay in the home for three years, it is forgiven.”

Harris noted that Congress did not continue the tax credit for energy-efficient improvements or appliances in the home. He also talked about bonus depreciation, and an increased cap on allowing business owners to expense hard assets with a new limit of $100,000.

Harris says some of the changes in the tax code are advantageous to businesses, especially during the financial downturn.

In the past, Harris noted that net losses could be carried back for two years. “Now, they’re extending it back for five years. This is good, because a lot of businesspeople are anticipating losses.”

New regulations encourage hiring military veterans, and “the disadvantaged” aged 18-25 who haven’t had a job in 6 months – in each case, with an incentive of up to $6,000 per qualifying employee.

Meet the Parkrose Business Association members
This, one of our favorite business groups, gets together on the third Thursday of each month – March 19, this month – at 11:30 a.m. This month features a networking luncheon, where members and guests can dine, meet, and greet one another.

Note the location: The meeting this month has been moved to Quality Inn & Suites Airport Convention Center, 9727 NE Sandy Boulevard. For more information, see their web site: www.parkrosebusiness.org.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Discover why a delightful aroma of wholesome, delicious food was wafting up from the farmhouse, at this unique outer East Portland institution …

Cook and instructor Katherine Deumling demonstrates how to chop vegetables – instead of fingers! – during her first class series at Zenger Farm.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Not content with simply being one of the few urban farms anywhere, and Portland’s only farm-based youth food education center, Zenger Farm has now branched out into offering classes for adults.

We met Katherine Deumling, a regional governor for Slow Food USA, at the remodeled farmhouse, while she was preparing for the first in a series of three cooking classes.

“We don’t have a fancy title for it; we’re calling it ‘Zenger Farm Cooking Classes’ – at which people can learn to cook delicious, quick, and nutritious meals from a well-stocked pantry.

“Ingredients for the meals are based on using seasonal produce, which is kind of a theme here at Zenger Farm,” Deumling told us. “It’s based on the concept of meat as a condiment, rather than a main course.”

Deumling, and her teaching assistant Cara Haskey, point out that learning a few skills helps one feel more confident, while working in the kitchen.

Skills build cooking confidence
The primary principle, the instructor said, is to teach techniques that help build the participants’ confidence that they can cook with what they have on hand, rather than relying on what they can make from a recipe.

“Many people look at a recipe and feel overwhelmed, because they must make a list, go shopping, then come back, to cook something,” instructed Deumling.  “I show how they can set up their kitchen and stock their pantry so that, on any given night, they can come home and make any of six meals from locally-produced food.  A meal that is both delicious and inexpensive.”

Deumling said she learned her culinary skills by “talking with lots of people” and doing a little restaurant cooking. “I’ve done a lot of ‘cooking on the fly’ as I’ve traveled around the world. I’m offering this class because I’ve found many people are afraid of cooking.  I hope this class meets the perceived need.”

Holding up one of her key ingredients, Deumling says olive oil adds to the flavor and texture of foods.

Chef shares real-world secrets
We asked Deumling to share a secret or two about preparing food.

“First, the most important lesson is to season the food. Use salt and olive oil liberally; and don’t worry about it. Good seasoning is the difference between mediocre cooking and delicious cooking.

“Secondly,” she continued, “be ready to make ingredient substitution. If you were going to use cabbage – and you don’t have any – give broccoli a try.

“Finally, free yourself from thinking of dinner as ‘meat, potatoes, and vegetable’. A good dinner could be just one big dish. Make it tasty – and it’s dinner.”

The Friends of Zenger Farm Executive Director, Jill Kuehler, spends a moment with chef Katherine Deumling and assistant Cara Haskey just as their first down-on-the-farm cooking class gets underway.

Class fully subscribed
Because of the space, and Deumling’s desire to have all of the participants actually cook instead of simply watch a lecture, she said they had to turn away quite a few people who wanted to sign up for the three-part class. “I guess you could say it’s a sign if success.”

It’s quite likely they’ll invite Deumling back, said Jill Kuehler, executive director of the Friends of Zenger Farm.

“While our organization has been primarily focused on youth education, since we were founded as an organization in 1999 – bringing about 3000 kids out of year – we’re starting to host adult education classes here,” Kuehler noted. “We also offer organic gardening classes, and will be adding classes in canning and preserving. We’ve even had food writing classes here. We’re venturing into a whole new area of adult education.”

To learn more about the mission, classes, and groups at Zenger Farm, visit their website by CLICKING HERE.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Find out why an alleged dope-peddler called ‘Lucky Luciano’ might want to start thinking of a new nickname – AND, what YOU can do to help keep drug dealers off the streets …

This sure ain’t baking soda! Here’s what of half pound if cocaine looks like. MCSO photo

Story by David F. Ashton
Based on the number of arrests we’ve seen lately, it looks like the flood of cocaine and heroin sneaking into Portland from Mexico isn’t slowing down.

“We have been busy,” admitted Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) spokesman Dep. Paul McRedmond, as he told us about two different arrests that took pounds – not ounces – of dope off our streets.

Pounds of coke found Wednesday night
On March 11, based on information gained from an ongoing probe, MSCO special investigators spotted a vehicle they’d been looking for, heading for Gresham.

They followed the newer black Ford Taurus out to the area of NE 182nd Place and E Burnside Street. Deputies stopped the car for a traffic violation, McRedmond said, and then started talking with the suspect, 40-year-old Francisco L. Leon. After he gave consent to search his car, deputies found a whopping 2½ POUNDS (not ounces) of “gunpowder cocaine”, with a street value of about $250,000.

Officials say this man, said Francisco Leon – a Mexican national, in this country illegally – lost his stash, his car and his freedom that night, he’s been placed on “immigration hold” at the County Jail.

Not so ‘Lucky Luciano’ gets busted
Then, based on information learned from confidential informants, undercover drug buys, and surveillance, sharp-eyed MSCO special investigators spotted yet another vehicle of interest the following night, March 12, McRedmond went on.

The officers spotted the vehicle – also a recent-model red Ford Taurus (apparently the drug dealer’s car of choice this week) – in the area of NE 191st & Glisan, and pulled it over to make a traffic stop.

Officials say that 32-year-old Alfredo Lugo-Velez (left) was driving; and riding shotgun was 37-year-old Javier ‘Lucky” Luciano-Ramirez (right), both Mexican nationals, reportedly in this country illegally.

“As special investigation officers pulled up, ‘Lucky’ Luciano-Ramirez got out of the car and immediately raised his hands over his head – and a half-pound of cocaine fell out of his shirt,” said McRedmond. “This would break down to about 2,000 individual ‘hits’, worth $100,000.”

“Lucky” Luciano, along with his partner, went to jail without incident. “In addition to the drug charges, they have been place on immigration holds,” stated McRedmond

Ooops! MCSO Deputies say a packet of drugs fell out of an alleged dope dealer’s shirt when he put his hands up! MCSO photo

Profiling criminal behavior
Because of the steady stream of Mexican nationals arrested – and allegedly caught with large quantities of high-quality narcotics – we asked McRedmond if MSCO special investigators could possibly have been engaging in “racial profiling”.

“Our investigators gather information, participate in undercover drug buys, and do surveillance on any individual, of any race or background – based on their behavior,” responded McRedmond. “Our deputies – and especially our special investigators – have learned to look for specific sets of behaviors common to people engaged in criminal activities.”

Editor’s note:
On Monday, March 16, the 2009 Multnomah County Budget Forum on Public Safety convenes.

How much more money should the County Commissioners be allowed to hack out the budget for the Sheriff’s Office, jails, and other public safety services?

Come give your testimony Monday night from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Multnomah Building, 1st Floor Commissioners’ Boardroom 100, 501 SE Hawthorne Street. Contact Board Clerk Deb Bogstad 503 988-3277 for further information.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Although digging holes to plant trees seems like hard work, check out the smiles on these volunteers’ faces as they plant LOTS of trees, in these exclusive photos …

Thanks to the work of many willing hands, the Hazelwood HydroPark – located on NE 117th Avenue between NE Glisan and Halsey Streets – now sports dozens of new trees.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Thanks to the efforts of a group of volunteers who labored most of the day on March 7, the Hazelwood Hydropark will someday enjoy the shade of tall native trees planted around its perimeter.

But that’s not all – this group also planted trees that will, in time, produce delicious orchard fruits too.

Friends of Trees’ Program Director Brighton West helps tireless neighborhood volunteers, along with Arlene Kimura and Linda Robinson, as they tag newly-planted trees.

Calls it a major project
“We’re planting about 44 trees here today at the Hydropark,” commented Brighton West, Friends of Trees’ Program Director. It’s a pretty big project. We have a lot of great volunteer help; and we’ve received some support from Portland Parks & Recreation.”

Pointing to the west and north side of the Community Garden at the Hydropark, West noted that apple, pear, fig, and persimmon trees will provide fruit for the community for years to come.

Cadie Sedies and Shannon Zimmerman volunteering on behalf of the IKEA “green group”. “In addition to making sure our store remains ‘green’, we also enjoy helping our community,” said Sedies

“There are many reasons to plant trees,” West told us. “They will sequester carbon which is becoming more and more of an issue. They hold stormwater to reduce rainstorm runoff. A tree planted in the right place can help cut down on the wind and lower the need for heating in the winter, and you can keep it cooler with shade in the summer. And, trees provide habitat and food for small animals and birds.”

Communities that have more trees also tend to have lower rates of crime as it turns out, West added.

Tom Lewis, Chair of the Centennial Neighborhood Association, helps out during the marathon tree-planting event.

More and more tree plantings are taking place in outer East Portland, noted West. “Come and join in. You’ll meet good people while you improve your neighborhood.”

CLICK HERE to visit the Friends of Trees website to find out how you can participate or get trees planted in YOUR yard!

These are only a few of the fruit trees the volunteers planted around the park’s Community Garden.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Find out why – and see what event the Gateway Area
Business Association plans for later this summer …

Members of the Gateway Area Business Association dine at their new location, Oregon Baptist Retirement Homes, on a meal prepared by Cherrywood Loaves & Fishes.

Story by Watford Reed and David F. Ashton, photos by David F. Ashton
One “first” after another, for the Gateway Area Business Association – when it held its first meeting at a new site on February 12 – Oregon Baptist Retirement Homes (OBRH), in the Gateway area.

At tables set in the OBRH Community Room, about 30 GABA members dined on clam chowder and gourmet sandwiches catered by the Cherrywood Loaves & Fishes. “All of the money we’re collecting for the lunches is donated to the Cherrywood Center,” explained GABA’s VP, Lee Powell, a Farmers Insurance agent.

Lee Powell, GABA’s vice president, surprised many when he announced the organization would not be mounting Fun-0-Rama festivities in May.

May 2009 Fun-0-Rama: CANCELLED
After the regular introductions and announcements, Powell surprised many of the gathered business people when he announced that the popular Gateway Fun-O-Rama Parade & Community Fair – typically held in May – has been suspended this year. “When our executive committee looked at the required tasks to be done, and the time lines, we realized we were too far behind to hold the Fun-0-Rama this year.”

Instead, he said, the organization would work to expand the National Night Out celebration program held at OBRH in the fall.  To avoid a potential conflict with the August 1 Parkrose Business Association Festival and Cruise-in, OBRH and GABA chose to host their event on Saturday, August 8.

OBRH executive director, Keith Milsark, tells how their organization is planning for growth in the older demographic.

OBRH prepares for ‘baby boom’
The main speaker at the meeting was Keith Milsark, who has been OBRH’s executive director since August 1.  With 73 million Americans in the “baby boom wave” about to break over American society, he said their organization is bracing for a “booming influx” of older folks who need good, affordable housing.

Milsark said he left a similar job at a retirement home at historic Williamsburg, Virginia. He told how moving his family across the country – as a middle aged adult – was a big job. He contrasted his experience with the work needed to move an elderly man or woman from their home into some type of senior-housing facility.

Milsark says his cross-country relocation made it easier to understand the difficulty the elderly have when considering moving from their home into a senior facility.

He also told the group of their board’s plans to expand OBRH. They purchased three nearby homes last summer, and are looking to acquire perhaps one more lot. He added that the homes will help elderly folk “bring home with you”, by allowing pets.

Meet the members on March 12
The Gateway Area Business Association next meets on March 12. Networking starts at 11:30 AM. This month, Dawn Rasmussen, Pathfinder Writing and Career Services will speak.

The Gateway Area Business Association next meets on March 12. Networking starts at 11:30 AM. This month, Dawn Rasmussen, Pathfinder Writing and Career Services will speak.

GABA meetings are now held at Oregon Baptist Retirement Homes, 1825 NE 108th Avenue (just north of NE Weidler Street, in the Community Room – just west from where NE Schuler Street dead-ends into 108th Avenue). They ask that you park on the street, not in the parking lots. For more information, see www.gabanet.com.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Daylight Savings Time is here again – see why your firefighters say “Change your clocks; check your fire alarm” on March 8 …

While at a training exercise (not a working fire), Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman Lt. Allen Oswalt here reminds us to check the battery in – or replace – smoke alarms in homes and businesses.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It doesn’t take much for a small fire to become a killing blaze. Even though Portland has the best firefighters in the nation, in our opinion, they say citizens should take steps to protect themselves and their families by making sure their home has working fire or smoke alarm systems.

“Fires caused by an unattended candle, combustibles placed too close to a heater, or an electrical problem can cause a late-night fire,” said Portland Fire & Rescue spokesman Lt. Allen Oswalt. “Working smoke detectors give people the precious moments they need to escape the killing smoke and fumes produced by a fire before we arrive.”

It took only moments for a small fire to turn into a raging blaze, as we see at this training exercise. A working smoke detector is vital to allowing a timely escape.

Change your clocks, check your fire alarms
It has been a longstanding practice for the fire bureau to ask citizens to check their fire and smoke alarms when changing their clock to Daylight Savings Time. This year, that happens early on Sunday, March 8.

Oswalt reminded us that smoke alarm regulations in Oregon are more strict than in other states. “Since 1999, the law requires all ionization-only smoke alarms sold in the state to have a ‘hush’ feature; and if an ionization-only smoke alarm is also solely battery-powered, it must also come with a 10-year lithium battery.”

If your smoke alarm is nearing a decade old – or, if you can’t remember when it was installed – consider replacing the unit. “It you have a new model with the long-life lithium batteries, check it to make sure it’s still working,” Oswalt reminded.

Additional safety tips include:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, and outside each sleeping area
  • Replace smoke alarms that are 10 years old or older
  • Hard-wired alarms should have battery back-ups
  • Never disconnect or remove batteries from smoke alarms for other uses
  • Make a home escape plan, and practice it

Oswalt concluded by saying, “Don’t be a victim. Working smoke detectors save lives.”

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

We waited to publish this until all the information was in. See exclusive photos, and see what the investigating officer had to say about this fatal wreck – which also sent three folks to the hospital …

Officers from Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division Major Crash Team use a special GPS surveying device while investigating an accident that claimed the life of the driver of the Honda, behind them, on NE Marine Drive.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It wasn’t raining or foggy on February 27, when a Honda Accord crossed the center line of NE Marine Drive, across from the PDX Airport viewpoint, a little after 10 p.m.

A cold wind blew along the Columbia River embankment, as we watched Portland Police Bureau’s Traffic Division Major Crash Team officers investigate a wreck that shut down Marine Drive from NE 33rd Avenue all the way to NE 122nd Avenue.

Although they had to pry the doors off this Ford Expedition, its three occupants suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

“About 10:15 p.m., officers were called to the 9500 block of NE Marine Drive regarding a two-car crash,” Acting Lieutenant Todd Davis, Traffic Division, told us. “When we arrived, we found there was one fatality at the scene.”

Davis said it looked as if a Ford Expedition, carrying three occupants, was traveling westbound on Marine Drive. “A Honda Accord was traveling eastbound on Marine Drive with one occupant. For reasons unknown at this time, the Honda Accord crossed the center line and hit the Ford Expedition head on.”

A semi-truck detours onto NE 122nd Avenue to avoid the closure. About ninety blocks of Marine Drive were blocked throughout the night, as the Major Crash Team investigated this fatal accident.

The three occupants of the Ford Expedition were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. “We have officers at the hospital interviewing them right now,” reported Davis.

The driver of the Honda, later identified as 44-year-old Jennifer Turcol by police spokesperson Detective Mary Wheat, died at the scene. “There were no citations issued, and the traffic investigators stated that the deceased crossed the center line of traffic.”

We may never know why this accident really occurred. But, Marine Drive does claim a life every six months or so – be careful!

All it takes is a moment of inattention, Traffic Division officers say, to cause a fatal car wreck like this one.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

See why this event grows in size and excitement every year – how you can be a part of it – and why you should mark your calendar NOW …

Getting ready for the 2009 82nd Avenue of Roses Grand Parade are committee members (back row, left to right): Lt. Tom McGranahan, Portland Police Bureau East Precinct; Richard Kiley, Home Run Graphics; Paul Ellison, Bank of the West; Johnni Jones, volunteer coordinator; Gail Kiley, Brentwood Darlington Neighborhood Association; and Kevin Williams, Portland Bureau of transportation; (front row) Julie Wolleck, Portland Community College SE Center; Ken Turner, 82nd Ave of Roses Business Association; Arlene Kimura, Chair, Hazelwood Neighborhood Association; Kathryn Notson, South Tabor Neighborhood Association; Eilene Curtiss, Portland Rose Society; and Judy Welch, Lents Neighborhood Association.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
It takes a lot of time and effort to put on a community event. The committee behind the 2009 82nd Avenue of Roses Grand Parade started on working on this year’s edition – scheduled for Saturday, April 25 last June!

“Because of the positive reception we’ve had from the communities we serve,” said Ken Turner, president of the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association, “we’re inspired to do even better. Every year, this event grows.”

The 2009 82nd Avenue of Roses Grand Parade begins at Eastport Plaza, just north of SE Holgate Boulevard. It marches north on the Avenue of Roses, and disperses in the Montavilla Neighborhood area, Turner told us.

Portland Community College’s SE Center will host the Reviewing Stand and public announcement area, just north of SE Division Street.

More music, more fun
One of the highlights of this year’s parade will be the “One More Time Around Marching Band” – the world’s largest standing musical organization – regularly featured in Portland Rose Festival parades and events.

The parade’s Grand Marshal hasn’t yet been revealed. But we’re told you will see:

  • Portland Rose Festival Court
  • Royal Rosarians
  • Portland Rose society
  • Station 11 fire engine
  • Rose City Corvette Car club
  • Boys and Girls Club
  • Madison High Drum Corps
  • Color Guard
  • Ronald McDonald
  • Chuck-E Cheese

And, several other unique, colorful individuals and groups are said also to be making arrangements to march in this lively parade.

Events before and after – at the start and finish
Turner reported that there are several before- and after-parade events scheduled for Eastport Plaza and the Montavilla/South Tabor Business District, including a kids bicycle safety program and a bike rodeo.

“We have ton of other things happening to enhance the day of the Parade”, said Sadee Daniels, with Eastport Plaza. “There’ll be the Funtastic Carnival, Eastport Izzy’s Classic Car Cruise-in, pony rides, juggling clowns, stilt walkers, air brush face painting, a balloon shaper, and live music.”

Eastport Plaza’s Carnival Days will also feature booths for community service providers and civic groups.

Last year’s parade was lots of fun! Plan now to come to the 2009 edition on April 25!

Volunteers needed
If you’re not content to sit on the sidelines, watching a parade pass you by, consider volunteering on the day of the parade. “We need volunteers to help, by briefly closing off side streets as the parade passes, said Johnni Jones, the event’s volunteer coordinator. It’s easy – and you get to watch the parade! Contact her by e-mailing: johnni.jones@gmail.com.

Registration for the parade begins at 7:30, and closes off at 8:30 am; the parade begins promptly at 9 am, Turner promised. “Come out and enjoy the day, at this great family community event.”

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

Find out why more than one citizen fell prey to the silver-tongued promises of a man police say swindled at least 11 victims with two different scams, in this exclusive interview. What can you learn from this? Read this article now …

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Officer Barbara Glass reviews some of the evidence she and her partner assembled, while tracking the activity of what they characterize as “a rather prolific ‘confidence man'”.

Story and photo by David F. Ashton
As a cop who investigates identity theft and scams at the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct command center, Officer Barbara Glass has seen more than her share of swindles, scams, and rip-offs perpetrated by Eastside crooks.

“I started working on the case when an officer came to me on February 24,” Glass began. “A woman said that a man offered to ‘do her taxes’ in her home for just $40.”

The victim waited for her tax refund – but it never came, Glass said. “When the victim checked to see about her tax refund, she learned it was electronically transferred into an account with which she wasn’t familiar.”

Glass said that when a confidence artist (commonly abbreviated as “con man”) works a scam, they usually don’t stop until they’re caught. “We were concerned that he’s doing this to other people. Channel 12 put out a ‘Most Wanted’ alert. We started getting calls the next day.”

Working two scams
In addition to allegedly stealing tax refunds, the man, identified as 30-year-old Gary Waite, was reportedly working another scam.

“We found four victims who have appeared to have been defrauded by a ‘Federal Grant Program’ he told victims he was facilitating,” Glass told us.

It seems that Waite allegedly told victims he’d “cut their bills in half” using a “special program” by analyzing all of their bills, and asking victims to pay him half of the monthly total. “In cash, of course,” Glass said. “He said the grant funds would pay the rest of the bills.”

When the victims’ next invoices arrived, they showed no funds were applied to the balances, the officer said. When victims tried to call Waite, they found that one of his phone lines was disconnected, and that his other line went to voice mail. Their calls were never returned.

“Dupes of the ‘Grant Program’ scam weren’t dumb people,” reported Glass. “One of them had lost her job and had two mortgages. She did a ‘trial run’ with Waite with one bill. When it worked out, she said she gave Waite more money – and the next month, she realized she’d been taken.”

This alleged “confidence man”, 30-year-old Gary Waite, is said to have talked at least eleven people out of hard-earned cash they needed to survive.

“He is a confidence man?” Glass responded to our obvious question. “Absolutely. Some people do gain the trust and confidence of others, in order to swindle them.”

Falls to a pizza delivery driver
On March 3, a pizza deliver driver who had seen Waite where he once lived, heard of his “most wanted” status, Glass revealed. “She was delivering a pizza to a guy named ‘Gary’ – and was surprised to see his domestic partner answer the door. The driver told her boyfriend who ended up calling 9-1-1. Officers got him to come to the door, and arrested him.”

Glass was called in to interview Waite; and the suspect consented to a search of the room he rented. “We found computers and credit card account information – where some of the stolen money was allegedly deposited. Tax-preparation forms led us to additional tax victims.”

So far, Glass said, as she looked through a binder of evidence, it appears Waite “took” six victims with the tax return scam, and another five with the fake grant program. “We may find more victims.”

Too good to be true? Don’t believe it!
Officials suspect that Waite had some tax preparation training or background. “Victims said he was very convincing; they believed him. He had an answer for everything.”

We asked Glass what can be learned from this case.

“First, like the old saying, ‘If is seems too good to be true, it probably is’,” Glass responded. “Think about it. Will a reputable tax preparer really come to your home and do your taxes for $40? Is there really a federal grant program that will pay off half your bills?”

Secondly, she continued, trust your “gut”. “If there is a little voice in the back of your head – trust it. I’ve talked to so many people who have been offered to become a ‘mystery shopper’ or get millions of dollars from people in Nigeria. If you’re approached, call us. That’s what we’re here for.”

So far, Waite has been charged with one count of Theft in the First Degree. More charges could follow.

Anyone with information concerning this case or arrested subject should contact Officer Barbara Glass at (503) 823-0287.

© 2009 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

© 2005-2020 David F. Ashton East PDX News™. All Rights Reserved.