Police say Anderson is well-known scam artist
A Medford man with a track record of impersonating police officers and stealing cars was sentenced Monday to five years in prison after pleading guilty to a string of crimes.
Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Laura Cromwell said there probably isn’t a judge at the courthouse who doesn’t know Donald Lee Anderson, Jr.
“You are a scourge on our society. There’s no other way to put it,” Cromwell told Anderson during a hearing in which she accepted his guilty pleas and sentenced him to prison.
Cromwell said Anderson’s claim-to-fame is that he commits property crimes rather than violent crimes, which carry steeper penalties. However, she said there still are victims when someone steals property.
“You just pick away at our community and our society,” Cromwell said to Anderson.
This time, Anderson, 49, pleaded guilty to third-degree robbery — a crime against a person — along with several other charges, including tampering with a witness and multiple charges of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle.
Speaking in court, Anderson said he had been doing well after being released from prison in 2015 and had a job as a gas station manager. He said the progress he had been making unraveled when he started doing drugs again.
“This didn’t only affect me. It affected people I victimized,” Anderson said.
In May 2018, Anderson went to collect a drug debt from a man in White City. Anderson was wearing a fake gun, a bullet proof vest, camouflage military-style pants and a baseball cap. He identified himself as “Special Agent Ben Carson” to the man’s girlfriend and demanded either money or the man’s truck, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Anderson said he had his “team” out front. The girlfriend handed over the ignition key, and Anderson took the truck, which was later recovered by police in a Phoenix parking lot, the affidavit said.
Police located Anderson in jail on unrelated warrants. He admitted to wearing a vest similar to what police wear and a fake gun, but denied identifying himself as a police officer. Anderson told police he “was just trying to look like a car repo guy so he could collect on a drug debt,” the affidavit said.
Also Monday, Anderson pleaded guilty to tampering with a witness for calling a woman on behalf of another jail inmate and trying to persuade her not to appear in court for a domestic violence case.
He pleaded guilty to unauthorized use of a motor vehicle from a 2017 case in which he stole a vehicle from Chevelle’s Auto Sales and went to a marijuana grow to reportedly steal plants. The owner of the plants recognized Anderson and hit him with a shovel, according to a probable cause affidavit.
In yet another case involving a stolen vehicle, Anderson pleaded guilty to unauthorized use of a motor vehicle after taking a Jeep Liberty from Deals on Wheels. Anderson left his identification at the car lot and was captured on surveillance video, according to the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office.
In 2014, Anderson was convicted of identity theft after he pretended to be a U.S. marshal at Rogue Regional Medical Center. He went to the emergency room wearing a black tactical uniform and vest, a badge and a holster with no gun. Anderson claimed he was transporting a wanted fugitive, which caused him anxiety. He received medical treatment but provided a false name and didn’t pay the $1,000 bill, according to Medford police.
At that time, Medford police said they had arrested Anderson many times and they called him a “well-known scam artist.”
In 2013, Anderson was arrested for allegedly calling 911 to report a bomb at Walmart in Medford. He was charged with initiating a false report and second-degree disorderly conduct, but the charges were later dropped.
In 2005, Anderson was sentenced to three years in prison for stealing items from cars involved in a crash near Yreka, California. 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, Anderson pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree theft for his role in slip-and-fall schemes he and his mother pulled at grocery stores and an oil change shop.
In a long letter Anderson wrote to Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Lisa Greif in March of this year, he said he had been diagnosed at age 13 with bipolar disorder, poor impulse control, attention deficit disorder and schizoaffective disorder — a chronic mental illness that produces hallucinations, delusions, mania and depression.
Anderson begged in the letter to be allowed into Jackson County’s Mental Health Court. He said he does well while on medications, but spiraled out of control, went off his meds and began suffering meth-induced psychosis after falling into a bad relationship with a woman involved in a Rogue Valley cult.
In court Monday, Cromwell — the judge overseeing his guilty pleas and sentencing — said there was no other option but prison for Anderson because of his long record of victimizing the community.
Cromwell warned Anderson if he starts using drugs again after he is released from prison for his latest crimes, he will wind up back behind bars.
Cromwell said Anderson is a smart man who negotiates well during plea talks and tries to find other people he can rat out in order to get a better deal.
In a last-ditch bid to slow his latest conviction, Anderson asked for his sentencing to be delayed because he said his mother is having surgery.
“Your honor, this is ridiculous,” objected Deputy District Attorney Johan Pietilla, who prosecuted the case.
Cromwell went ahead with sentencing Anderson to prison.
Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.