Letter to the editor: Charges about Tanglewood prosecutions are factually incorrect
By Burton Harding, Linn County Attorney
On May 22, 2023, at the Linn County Commission meeting a large group of people attended in order to voice their concerns regarding the incident that took place at the Tanglewood Lakes community the preceding Thursday. At that time numerous individuals damaged the lake community’s property by cutting down gates and removing the motors, card readers, power and other infrastructure. I attended that meeting prior to my court cases beginning that day in order to give an update on the situation from my office’s perspective and to answer any questions I could. After leaving the discussion continued, and there were many things said that I believe are factually incorrect and the purpose of this letter is to correct the record where I am able.
Immediately following the incident two weeks ago, multiple individuals were told that my office was not prosecuting cases arising from damage to gates at Tanglewood and directed to call me personally about it. I heard the accusation again at the Commission meeting and decided to take a look at my files and investigate to see if there was an issue with cases being referred and not prosecuted, as I was hearing. The following is what I found after looking at all reports referred to my office for prosecution where Tanglewood was the victim of a crime.
Since taking office in January of 2021, and not counting the most recent incident, my office has received 21 new probable cause affidavits and reports seeking charges for criminal damage to property on the gates at Tanglewood. From those 21 reports, 13 criminal cases have been filed in District Court. My office declined prosecution on three and the rest are still pending charges. My office has been in communication with the homeowners association regarding the timing of the filing of those charges. Of the uncharged cases some were awaiting the outcome of other trials, and some were pending a decision in a civil matter regarding the lake community. In all events, those reports were personally reviewed and discussed with the board of Tanglewood.
In addition, there was an individual who complained that he was the victim of a criminal threat and was told that his report was sent to my office for charging. Upon review, I found that no report with that individual’s name was ever sent to my office.
At this point in time, my office has received partial reports on 13 new cases and charges have been filed on those cases. As always, this office takes all allegations of criminal conduct in the County seriously and will continue to review and file cases as reports are received. I take issue with and dispute any claims that we are receiving numerous reports on cases and not prosecuting. We have filed or are prepared to file the vast majority of the Tanglewood cases referred to the County Attorney’s Office. Claims to the contrary are misinformed.