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Legal Matters

Fraud charges filed for hardware store scheme

A Silverton man has been implicated in an alleged large-scale and sophisticated fraud scheme targeting hardware stores throughout Oregon, including new local charges.

Elton Bud Ralston, 40, has been charged in four separate cases in Marion, Linn, Yamhill and Washington counties for alleged thefts involving tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise.

According to an initial case filed in Washington County Circuit Court June 8, 2023, Ralston had caught the eye of a retail organized crime investigator with Home Depot. This investigator told police Ralston allegedly swapped UPC labels on merchandise before using self check-out to pay less than what the items were worth.

The investigator documented four incidents at multiple Home Depot stores between March 6 and May 9, 2023, during which Ralston allegedly underpaid for merchandise by almost $25,000.

Further investigation by authorities revealed similar incidents at Lowe’s Home Improvement stores during February of 2023, with these losses totaling more than $13,000.

It was later learned Ralston allegedly committed similar offenses during the same time frame in McMinnville, Albany and Salem, with losses in these cases totaling more than $13,200.

All told Ralston is facing 39 separate criminal counts between the four jurisdictions on charges including aggravated first-degree theft, first-degree theft, second-degree theft, computer crimes, and driving with a revoked license. The most recent case was filed in Marion County March 19 on one count each of aggravated first-degree theft and first-degree theft.

According to court records, Ralston is engaged in plea negotiations with prosecutors and is due in Washington County Circuit Court May 2 for a change of plea and sentencing.

Felony charges filed in Silverton shooting case

A Silverton man is facing a felony charge after allegedly attempting to shoot another man in February.

Michael Yun Bai Kim, 48, was charged in Marion County Circuit Court Feb. 29 with unlawful use of a weapon and fourth-degree assault for an alleged incident Feb. 19. If convicted he faces up to five years in prison.

Prosecutors claim Kim discharged a firearm at another man within the city limits of Silverton in an alleged attempt to cause harm. Kim also allegedly caused minor injuries to the victim during the incident, according to court records.

Kim was released Feb. 29 from the Marion County Jail on his own recognizance with orders to not possess firearms while the case is pending. He is due back in court for arraignment April 2.

Stiff penalty sought for trailer and cargo theft

A Silverton man with a history of property offenses has been charged with felony theft after allegedly stealing a trailer in February.

Craig Steven Fisher, 52, was charged March 11 in Marion County Circuit Court with first-degree aggravated theft for an alleged incident Feb. 19.

Fisher allegedly stole a cargo trailer, valued at more than $10,000, including the items inside.

Prosecutors have notified the court they intended to seek an enhanced sentence due to factors including Fisher’s repeated arrests for related offenses. These include burglary and theft in 2016, theft in 2022, and possession of a forged instrument and theft in 2023.

At the time of his arrest, Fisher was serving a two-year probation sentence related to a 2022 conviction for first-degree theft. He had pleaded guilty to stealing more than $1,000 in dehumidifiers from a local contracting company.

— Stephen Floyd

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