By Edward Snook
Grants Pass, OR – I’ll send in a tactical team to take the kid out! These were the words used by an Oregon district attorney, with a long history of intimidation, threatening to kill a 15-year old boy.
The year was 1985 and Lincoln County, Oregon, had a hot murder trial that could put this trigger happy District Attorney (DA) and his assistant on the road map to fame and fortune, while riding on the backs of those least able to defend themselves. All it would take is a conviction and this looked like a slam dunk. This DA and his Deputy District Attorney (DDA) had some sobering surprises in store for them. Twenty-two years later that same DA is well known to many residents of Grants Pass, Oregon. His name is Ulys Stapleton, now legal counsel for the City of Grants Pass, and still a controversial figure.
Grants Pass City Attorney Ulys Stapleton
Sandy Jones and her son Little Mike were both to be tried separately for murder in the death of a neighbor named Wilfred Gerttula. Fifteen year old Little Mike’s trial was held first. According to Gerry Spence, “Stapleton attempted to intimidate Little Mike by staring at him in court and mouthing, you murdered him.” After a nine day non-jury trial in December, Judge Robert Gardner found the innocent Little Mike guilty of first degree manslaughter. The guilty verdict was later overturned on appeal by a higher court. So much for a fair trial in Judge Gardner’s courtroom.
Following her jury trial, Sandy Jones, Little Mike’s mother, was found not guilty of murder. Interestingly, Lincoln County DA Ulys Stapleton and his DDA Josh Marquis were both removed during the trial for prosecutorial misconduct, which involved failing to disclose exculpatory evidence. The information withheld was that Gerttula’s wife, Monica, failed a lie detector test that could have shown she allegedly tried to shoot Sandy Jones and instead shot her husband. How did Stapleton expect the defendant’s attorneys to play the game without a full deck of cards when his office sat on evidence vital to the defendant’s case? Little Mike and his mother could have spent years in prison. It seems that the win at any cost is the primary concern of many prosecutors.
Spence exposes in his book that Stapleton intimidated the defendant’s attorney Ms. Longo by telling her that if she didn’t discharge Spence from the case that he would file an ethics complaint with the Oregon State Bar and they would probably disbar her. From our investigation of Ulys Stapleton we find that threats and intimidation are standard procedure for this corrupted attorney.
The above murder trial is documented in a book called The Smoking Gun by Gerry Spence which details the corruption in our criminal justice system. Gerry Spence, a best-selling author and trial lawyer, turns a floodlight on Ulys Stapleton and all the other players in this sordid stomach wrenching murder trial. As the reader will learn, many trials are not about justice but about convictions using the awesome power of the state. This was one of those trials not about justice but where justice prevailed in spite of corruption within the system.
Spence quoted on page 263, “This case does not belong to Ulys Stapleton who seeks to use it as his own property for the selfish glory of nailing big hides to the wall. Nor does it belong to his scheming clever assistant, who joins in with lip, tongue, and shallow values.”
Spence related in his acknowledgments, “I also remember with great respect Steve Lovejoy (Little Mike’s court appointed attorney) for his faithful dedication to the case of a small boy who was wrongfully charged with a murder he did not commit.”
Stapleton’s Corruption Continues
Yes, Stapleton lost the murder case in 1985, but how many innocent victims has he created over the years who weren’t able to access someone of the caliber of a Gerry Spence?
In April of 2000, The US~Observer (then The Oregon Observer) published an article titled “State drops William’s case” (read this article on page 16 of this edition). Mack Williams of Grants Pass had been subject to multiple false felony charges for over 4 years when he hired the Observer to vindicate himself. Williams had been charged in 1996, of relocating Allen Creek in southwest Grants Pass.
The Observer exposed publicly, perjury by state employees and the fact that Ulys Stapleton entered an altered map of Allen Creek in an attempt to build false evidence against Williams. A totally corrupt Josephine County District Attorney’s Office was forced to drop all charges the third day of trial because a certain state employee refused to take the witness stand and continue his perjury. Stapleton was the main driving force behind the false felony charges filed against Mack Williams. Obviously, no criminal charges were filed against Stapleton or the lying state witnesses by the same corrupt DA’s Office that was forced to drop their criminal conspiracy against Williams.
In 2003, the Observer once again encountered Ulys Stapleton and his thuggish tactics when he attacked Grants Pass businessman William “Bill” Poole. Stapleton attempted to get Poole to sell an adjacent property owner part of his land and Poole refused. Even though Stapleton had no business getting involved he soon retaliated against Poole for his refusal to bow down and obey the “powerful” Ulys Stapleton.
Poole was soon attacked over a sign he had placed on his property with a permit and even though the city’s paperwork stated there would be no charge, Stapleton forced Poole to pay $75.00.
Next Stapleton sent code enforcement officers to threaten him about wood that was next to his building. When Poole informed them that he didn’t own the wood or the property in was on, they dropped the issue. In fact, Stapleton was informed who the owner was and nothing was ever said to him – proof positive of Stapleton’s vindictive corruption.
To Poole’s surprise Stapleton was soon back attacking him over a garbage can on commercial property he had leased to a restaurant. Stapleton once again sent his code enforcement officers out and Poole became the recipient of 4 false citations for $295.00 each within a 5 day period. Stapleton reportedly cost the City of Grants Pass over $500,000 when the ACLU sued over Stapleton’s “dual standards” regarding the All Sports Park. The garbage can issue was exactly the same dual standard abuse as the city had numerous garbage cans on city owned property leased to restaurants that weren’t cited – proof positive of Stapleton’s vindictive corruption. At this juncture the Observer became involved. Poole had hired two different local attorneys, paying them hundreds of dollars for nothing. Poole eventually agreed to pay a $75.00 fine rather than thousands more with attorneys and Stapleton finally decided to leave him alone, knowing that any future attacks would be made public. This is exactly what cockroaches do – when the lights come on they run into holes and hide.
In February of 2006, Stapleton wrote a threatening letter to 80 year-old Medora Nankervis. Stapleton writes, “I hereby demand a formal letter from you, to me and to Dennis Roler, apologizing for your misinformation. If I don’t receive this by March 13, 2006, I will take further action.” This letter, written on city letterhead stationary, was Stapleton’s response to Nankervis’ letter to the editor wherein she stated, “The city lawyer hurriedly renewed the contract with the school before our new city manager arrived, so he had no input.” It’s incredible that this cowardly, bully attorney who obviously thinks he’s God, would attack and scare an 80-year-old woman over her exercising her absolute right to freedom of expression in a letter to the editor. Stapleton was eventually forced to apologize to Nankervis, however, had he not been forced to do so this hypocrite would most certainly have exercised his “further action” against Nankervis. Note – Dennis Roler didn’t want an apology and stated firmly, “I don’t see any way Medora owes me an apology.”
Stapleton’s Current Corruption –
From Holger Sommer
Stapleton’s pattern of unethical and abrasive behavior continued with the recent land acquisition controversy uncovered by local land use advocate Holger Sommer. Sommer brought facts to light which strongly question the ethics and integrity of longtime City Attorney Stapleton
In reviewing some of the city’s land use activities Sommer came across some astounding facts: A local builder met with a land owner in March of 2004, negotiating the sale of property located on Williams Highway. During these negotiations the asking price was agreed upon to be $350,000. After working up a Tentative Plan and reviewing it with the city, the developer came to the conclusion that the city’s requirements were excessive (wetland, roads, etc.) and the developer dropped the project. The seller negotiated with a local real estate broker and another developer. Two other earnest money agreements, one for $350,000 and one for $500,000 were on the property in the months prior to the purchase by the City of Grants Pass. Stapleton purchased the property with city money in January of 2005, for the amount of $1,040,000.
Does this over priced acquisition have something to do with Mr. Stapleton’s purchase of property at 811 NE “A” Street from the same seller in August 2005? Stapleton purchased this property for $223,000, approximately $60,000 below market value and the seller carries a mortgage. First, Stapleton arranges for the purchase of property for a park at three times the market value with public money and then purchases property below market value from the same seller for himself.
At the beginning of the investigation Stapleton had purchased about 10 properties along Allen Creek just south of his own personal property on Allen Creek Road. Some of these properties seem to go well beyond the required land needed to construct a bike/pedestrian path along Allen Creek. It is obvious that Stapleton surrounds his personal property with expensive, future city park land to increase the market value of his own property.
The purchases of small sections of property along Allen Creek for a bike/pedestrian path was the city council’s assigned task for Stapleton, but the purchase of large properties, not adjacent to the creek, goes beyond that assignment.
It is clear to any prudent person that attorney Ulys Stapleton has left a path of destruction from Lincoln County, Oregon to Klamath County, Oregon and right on to Grants Pass, Oregon where the Grants Pass City Council welcomed him and his corruption with open and embracing arms. For years Ulys has enjoyed the protection and enablement provided by the Grants Pass City Council, in fact during a recent city council meeting Paul Walter with newswithviews.com appeared and presented each council person with a copy of Gerry Spence’s book, The Smoking Gun. Instead of thanking him for wanting to alert them to Stapleton’s corruption, Councilor Donna Jean Wendle said she thought Walter’s action was inappropriate.
City Manager David Frasher has hired a former Oregon judge to investigate Stapleton’s highly suspicious activities. It would have looked better had Frasher found an investigator outside of Oregon, since we know that the Oregon State Bar Association is a brotherhood and they protect their own.
Daily Courier Editor Dennis Roler recently called for the City of Grants Pass to fire Ulys Stapleton and this writer is left wondering just how many people this corrupt individual has ruined and how much money has he amassed at the public’s expense that we don’t know about. One thing I don’t have to wonder about is how quickly Stapleton will send me a threatening letter on city letterhead, because I’m not an 80-year-old woman…