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Insufficient evidence found in Sergi probe

Acriminal investigation of Jackson County sheriff candidate Bob Sergi into charges he violated election laws has been dropped because of insufficient evidence.

The Oregon Department of Justice notified the Jackson County Sheriff's Department on Wednesday that it was dropping the investigation, said spokeswoman Kristina Edmunson.

Sergi, a sheriff's lieutenant and night supervisor at the Jackson County Jail, will remain on administrative leave pending a review of the DOJ investigation by the Sheriff's Department, a department press release said Thursday.

According to a letter from a DOJ attorney addressed to sheriff's Capt. Monty Holloway, Sergi was under investigation for first- and second-degree official misconduct, computer crime and third-degree theft.

Sergi said he believes Holloway initiated the investigation, which Sergi referred to as "dirty politics."

When contacted Thursday, Holloway declined to comment.

"I am not sure what they (sheriff's officials) are going to do at this point. It wouldn't surprise me for them to try something else," Sergi said. "The outcome is what I expected from the beginning, but it certainly was a cloud over our campaign."

Sergi was accused of using a sheriff's department employee roster to solicit campaign funds. Campaign materials that were mailed to potential supporters in December ended up going to the homes of department employees, the DOJ letter states.

DOJ investigators learned that on Nov. 26, Sergi sent a copy of the internal-use-only contact list containing the names, addresses and phone numbers of department employees from his work email to his personal email so that he could contact employees while away from the office, which is an authorized use of the list.

Sergi used the list to recruit members for the Fraternal Order of Police, which he claims the sheriff's department gave him permission to do, the DOJ letter states.

DOJ investigators said sheriff's officials denied giving Sergi any consent to use the list to recruit for the fraternal order, which is a national labor union of law-enforcement officers.

Sergi admitted that while building his campaign list, he used an FOP recruiting list and the Democratic Party of Oregon's VoteBuilder database, the letter states.

Sergi said the contact information for the employees who received his campaign materials in December came from a source other than the sheriff's department's internal roster.

DOJ investigators "concluded there is insufficient evidence to support a criminal prosecution," the letter states.

"The crimes they investigated didn't make sense from the beginning, because there shouldn't have been a criminal investigation from the beginning," Sergi said. "If it had gone on much longer, I think it could have affected the campaign, but I think at this point most people realize that it was just dirty politics."

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-776-4471 or swheeler@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/swhlr.

Insufficient evidence found in Sergi probe