A man Medford police describe as a well-known scam artist was arrested on charges of disorderly conduct and initiating a false police report after he allegedly called 911 and claimed there was a bomb at the Walmart at 1360 Center Drive, Medford.
The store was evacuated Tuesday after the 8:12 p.m. call reported that a pipe bomb had been left in the store's electronics department. Officers searched the store, but found no explosive device, Medford police Lt. Mike Budreau said. The store reopened about an hour later.
Phone records showed that the 911 call came from a phone belonging to Donald Lee Anderson, a 43-year-old who is well known to law enforcement, Budreau said.
An officer had seen Anderson leaving Walmart during the evacuation and police found him sitting in his car at the nearby Fred Meyer with the cell phone used to make the 911 call. He was arrested and booked into jail, but has since been released, jail records show.
Bomb threats were made at the Walmart store in May and June, police said. Investigators suspected that the calls might have been made to force a store evacuation that would provide cover for thefts, but they are still exploring this theory, Budreau said. They haven't linked Anderson to the early bomb threats, he said.
"I can't help but think this is another Donnie Lee Anderson scam," Budreau said.
Anderson has a lengthy criminal history, including several quirky cases that got media attention.
In January he was arrested on charges of theft, identity theft, impersonating a police officer and being a felon in possession of body armor after he allegedly posed as a U.S. marshal to get medical care he didn't pay for at Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. His trial is set for November.
In 2005, he was sentenced to three years in prison for stealing items from cars involved in a crash near Yreka., Calif. Anderson wore a reflective vest and offered to lend assistance but stole cameras, DVD players, watches, cash, a handgun and CDs from the vehicles. At the Mercy Medical Center in Mount Shasta, Anderson was caught on security camera taking a laptop and supplies from the emergency room. Police also found items stolen from a Talent truck stop.
In 2001, he pleaded guilty to two counts first-degree theft and was sentenced to 13 months in prison for his role in slip-and-fall schemes he and his mother pulled at an Oil Stop, Albertsons and Eastside Select Market, according to court records.