Police Report: MPD Detective Believes JoCo Commissioner Falsely Reported Car Stolen

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Thu, October 31 2013 at 6:10 PM, Updated: Thu, October 31 2013 at 7:40 PM

The Department of Justice says there's not enough evidence to charge Josephine County Commissioner Simon Hare with any crime related to what police believe was Hare's false report that someone stole his car back in May. At that time, there were rumors that he may have been driving drunk.

Police reports just obtained by NBC 5 News show witnesses say he was intoxicated the same night his Jeep was allegedly stolen.

Both the Josephine County District Attorney and Commissioner Hare refused to speak with us on camera about the incident. 

Witnesses Say Simon Hare Was Intoxicated

According to witness statements in the police reports, Hare was seen inside the Bohemian Bar and Grill and also near the Wonder Bur on the night in question. Witnesses who told police they were with Hare on that night, described him as "drunk."

Paul Peters, a man who said he is a "social acquaintance" of Hare's said at one point in the night people had to convince Hare to find a safe way home.

"Peters said at one point, several people including himself offered to get Hare a taxi or a ride home, as it was clear he shouldn't be driving [...] Peters said several people told Hare to give up his keys or leave them at the bar, but he thought Hare kept the keys."

Simon Hare's Jeep Spotted on Hamilton Ln. at 1:30AM

Later that evening, around 1:30 on the morning of May 10th, in the 1600 block of Hamilton Lane, a resident called police to report suspicious activity.   

The woman says she saw someone get out of a parked Jeep. She described him as clean-cut, fit, wearing a dark button down shirt with tan or cream slacks, dark hair and potential facial hair as well, but the woman said she wasn't close enough to make out specific facial features. She said after the man got out of the Jeep, he stumbled around as if intoxicated.

Next, the woman said the man, who looked to be in his 30s, locked the car with an electric key and walked away toward Fruitdale Elementary School. Hare's jeep was found in that location. Authorities noted that when Hare was seen earlier in the evening in downtown Grants Pass, he had also used an electronic key to unlock his car doors.

When they found the Jeep, Police also say there were no indications that it had been broken into. In fact, the investigator said it appeared to be legally parked, was not damaged, and the contents inside were neat and orderly. In addition, authorities said it was suspicious that the Jeep was parked near Hare's home, about half a mile away.

Due to Potential Conflict of Interest, MPD Takes Over Investigation

Medford Police soon took over the investigation due to a potential conflict of interest if authorities in Josephine County continued to work the case. The Medford detective who was investigating the case, Josh Reimer, said Hare was not cooperative. According to Reimer, contact was attempted on several occasions. One morning he even went to Hare's home. 

"I asked Simon if I could talk to him for a few minutes and he said he had to get to work. Following my explanation that I just had a few questions and it would only take a 'few minutes' he said, 'I have a very important job and I need to get to it.' I asked if he could call his employer and advise them he may be a few minutes late in order to provide time to talk to me. He was unwilling to call and expressed his lack of appreciation of my visit without an appointment. He said he would call me to set up an appointment several times. I asked Simon Hare, 'Are you refusing to talk to me for two minutes?' He said 'Yes,' and closed his front door."

According to Sergeant Reimer, Hare never followed up like he said he would.

MPD Detective Says Hare Falsely Reported His Jeep Stolen

After speaking with witnesses, Reimer concluded the following:

"The focus of my investigation is to determine whether or not Simon Hare made a false report related to his vehicle being stolen and if not, to identify the suspect that stole the vehicle [...] It is my belief Simon Hare made a false police report in reporting his vehicle stolen."

The case was forwarded to the Department of Justice. Senior Assistant Attorney General Kristen E. Hoffmeyer issued a letter that said there was not sufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges.

Commissioner Simon Hare Speaks Out

Meantime, on the phone, Commissioner Hare acknowledged that he did consume alcohol, however he maintains he was not drunk. He said consuming alcohol is not a crime.

Hare also added that no one actually saw him getting into the car or driving it.

"He [Medford Det. Sgt. Josh Reimer] seemed blatant about the fact that I was guilty but couldn't prove it," said Hare over the phone.

He said from what he understands, the Josephine County District Attorney will not prosecute, so as far as he's concerned, the case is closed. He says he's glad the whole issue is behind him.

MPD Says Case Isn't "Closed"

However, even while the DOJ has dropped the case, officials there say the letter they issued does not preclude other agencies from re-opening the investigation. In fact, Medford Police say they've just "suspended" the investigation. That means if new evidence arises, they can re-open the case. They will have two-years until the Statute of Limitations kicks in; that's when the case will officially be closed for good.

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About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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