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Oregon detective pleads guilty to forgery

Steven Dubois Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. – An Oregon State Police detective who investigated a killing spree involving a pair of white supremacists was sentenced Friday to 18 months of probation after pleading guilty to forgery and official misconduct related to the case.

As part of the plea bargain, David Steele also resigned and was fined $300. He apologized in a statement read in court by his attorney. The statement provided no explanation for his conduct.

Steele was the lead investigator into the nine-day rampage in 2011 of Joey Pedersen and Holly Grigsby that claimed the lives of Pedersen’s father and stepmother, an Oregon teenager the couple mistakenly thought was Jewish and a black man in Northern California.

The government alleged the slayings were committed as part of a campaign to purify and preserve the white race.

In a supervisory opinion released this summer, the trial judge in the federal case said Steele withheld and destroyed evidence, backdated reports and listened to confidential defendant-attorney calls.

In his plea agreement, Steele only acknowledged photocopying the cover sheet of a supervisor-approved report in the case and hand-altering the date and page numbers. He then attached it to another report, bypassing the need to have his supervisor review and approve it.

Prosecutor Paige Clarkson said that amounted to forgery of the supervisor’s signature.

Clarkson said the case will create the need to audit all of Steele’s work since 2001.

Plea agreements by Pedersen and Grigsby forbid them from appealing their cases, which ended with sentences of life in prison. They initially faced possible death sentences, but that option collapsed when Steele’s work came under scrutiny.

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