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Theft investigation follows sex charge plea

The former editor of the Ashland Daily Tidings now faces a criminal theft investigation over more than $100,000 allegedly missing from three failed Ashland businesses he co-owned.

Andrew Scot Bolsinger was served Friday in Salem with more than half of the 80 subpoenas issued last week by a Jackson County grand jury in the aggravated theft investigation involving Pipon's restaurant and two former Lithia Plaza printing businesses, Lithia Stationers and The Main Source.

The estimated losses in the alleged theft from those businesses was more than $100,000, but the suspected loss totals could climb, Ashland police Detective Bon Stewart said Friday.

"I don't want to speculate on the amount," Stewart said.

Stewart served the subpoenas seeking financial records immediately after Bolsinger's appearance Friday in Marion County Circuit Court to answer felony sex-abuse charges in an unrelated case.

Bolsinger, 41, pleaded not guilty Friday to four counts of second-degree sexual abuse stemming from alleged abuse of a 16-year-old girl while and after he was a teacher at a Salem-area private school between April and July of 2000, court records show.

Bolsinger remains free on $25,000 bail. He is believed to be living in Santa Rosa, Calif., after a Marion County judge issued Bolsinger a travel permit in February on the condition that he appeared in court Friday.

Bolsinger was next due back in court April 9.

Stewart said he traveled to Salem to serve the subpoenas Friday because he knew he could find Bolsinger there.

Bolsinger declined to comment Friday outside of court.

He was accompanied in court by his attorney, Larry Roloff, who also declined comment.

Lori Bolsinger, his wife, did not appear in court Friday. If so, Stewart was prepared to serve her with subpoenas in connection with the case, Stewart said.

Bolsinger was fired Feb. 5 from his job at the Daily Tidings, a sister paper of the Mail Tribune.

Stewart said the subpoenas are part of his investigation of suspected aggravated theft, with the alleged victims being his business partners in a string of liability-limited corporations that own the three failed plaza businesses.

Oregon corporate records show the co-owners as Elaine Leffler and Tim Gustin, both of whom show California addresses, records show.

Stewart said he will also be looking into Bolsinger's financial dealings involving the Jefferson State Pub, which he formerly owned.

Bolsinger was evicted from the pub's Water Street building in February, and the lease reverted to the former owners, who re-opened the pub Feb. 29.

Bolsinger is no longer associated with the pub, whose owners have not divulged publicly how much they lost in their dealings with Bolsinger.

Stewart said Friday that Scot and Lori Bolsinger were the only current targets of criminal investigation. Neither has been charged with any crimes in connection with the failed businesses.

A Mail Tribune investigation revealed that several former employees, suppliers, creditors, and investors were left in the lurch for hundreds of thousands of dollars from the businesses of the Bolsingers, whose personal finances also crumbled.

The four businesses folded beneath the weight of almost a dozen 2007 court judgments involving defaulted loans, alleged fraud over an unreturned deposit on a sale of The Main Source lease and unpaid food and beverage taxes collected from customers at Pipon's but not paid to the city of Ashland.

The 80 subpoenas were meant to unearth financial records that could help investigators trace the money trail among the failed businesses, which were all "inter-related in some way," Stewart said.

"It's going to take several weeks, at least, to go through all the financial records" before he returns to the grand jury in search of an indictment, Stewart said.

"The true idea of what's going on will be in the financial records," Stewart said.

In the sex-abuse case, a former student of the Willamette Valley Christian School told police last fall that she was 16 years old when she engaged in sexual activity with Bolsinger in 2000.

A January indictment accuses Scot Bolsinger of four sex-abuse crimes, Class C felonies.

Bolsinger left the school in May of 2000 during the middle of the alleged period of abuse, later taking a newspaper job in Harrisonburg, Va.

Various documents, including driving records, reveal that Bolsinger and his alleged victim listed the same residence and telephone number in Harrisonburg prior to Bolsinger's hiring at the Tidings in July 2003. At that time, the victim was 20 years old.

Marion County sheriff's deputies said they opened their investigation in November 2007, but detectives have declined to elaborate.

Marion County prosecutors filed court papers last month stating they intend to rely on "enhancement facts" and to seek consecutive sentences should Bolsinger be convicted on more than one count, court records show.

In that filing, prosecutors allege Bolsinger had "persistent involvement" with the victim, that the crime was a violation of public trust and that the alleged crimes were committed in separate episodes, court records state.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 776-4470, or e-mail mfreeman@mailtribune.com.

Theft investigation follows sex charge plea