Jurisdiction issues held up child porn investigation

Buck

Jarvis Donald Buck of Echo has a hearing Friday to change his plea to charges he possessed child pornography.

The deal comes almost two years after police received the initial tip that led to his arrest.

Hermiston police chief Jason Edmiston explained the Oregon Department of Justice — by way of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children — contacted his department in June 2015 about potential child pornography at an internet protocol address related to Buck. An IP address is a numeric designation that identifies a computer’s location on the internet.

Hermiston detectives started working the case, Edmiston said, but ran into a significant hurdle about a week later when internet service providers Charter Communications and CenturyLink demanded subpoenas before releasing any customer information.

Detective Robert Guerrero testified to a grand jury to obtain the court order, Edmiston said, which allowed for the department to uncover the internet address. But that presented another complication — determining police jurisdiction.

The IP address returned to Buck, who was living in Echo, a city that receives its police services from Stanfield.

Bryon Zumwalt, Stanfield police chief, said Hermiston detectives told him about Buck, but his small department lacked the resources to take on the case. Zumwalt also said he knew Buck’s family dynamics and did not consider him an immediate threat to the community, and that Zumwalt knew Hermiston’s investigation was underway.

Edmiston said Hermiston detectives provided all the case information to a detective at the Umatilla County Sheriff’s Office with the understanding that it would pursue the case. But Undersheriff Jim Littlefield said sheriff’s detectives did not investigate because Echo is under Stanfield’s purview.

Hermiston police on March 8, 2016, received more cybertips through the Oregon justice department pointing to Buck. Edmiston said that led to conversations with a DOJ special agent and the Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office.

“When we got the last tip and saw this was a pattern,” Edmiston said. “It was clear we needed to take (the case) because we had the resources to do it.”

Hermiston detective Randy Studebaker drew the case. He also worked on the Blue Mountain Enforcement Narcotics Team, the local task force that takes down criminal drug operations. He was due to rotate off the assignment in early 2017, Edmiston said, so the team conducted a sweep Feb. 14, 2017 that included Buck.

“Our detectives wanted to make sure Mr. Buck was dealt with appropriately,” the chief said.

Edmiston said Stanfield police should have been the agency on the case, but Hermiston department members have additional training on internet crimes. He said police have to take additional precautions with child pornography cases and are “super sensitive about even how information is shared with another agency” to avoid breaking the law by sharing exploitive images of children.

Buck, 38, pleaded not guilty to five counts of first degree encouraging child sexual abuse stemming from the possession of digital images of child pornography, according to court records, and in a separate case he pleaded not guilty to possession of methamphetamine. He remains in the Umatilla County Jail, Pendleton.

His defense attorney, Thomas Gray of Pendleton, filed a motion April 6 to delay the trial.

“Defendant had wanted to fire me but now fences are patched,” Gray stated in affidavit, and he also needed more time to prepare and work on “an acceptable plea negotiation.”

That deal could see fruition Friday afternoon during the change of plea hearing in the Hermiston courtroom of Circuit Judge Eva Temple.

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