News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Former deputy denies claims in fraud case

A former Linn County Sheriff’s Office deputy has denied allegations he used confidential records to defraud an elderly victim.

Steven Ray Church, 59, of Mill City, pleaded not guilty April 2 in Linn County Circuit Court to allegedly using the victim’s medical records to gain an advantage in personal property transactions.

Church is charged with aggravated first-degree theft, first-degree theft, first-degree criminal mistreatment, first-degree official misconduct, second-degree official misconduct and misuse of confidential information.

If convicted Church faces up to 10 years in prison on the highest counts.

The case is set for an early resolution hearing May 30 before Judge Lindsay Partridge during which parties may potentially reach a settlement.

Church allegedly used his position as a deputy to access the medical records of an elderly Mill City man between Dec. 24, 2022, and Jan. 10, 2023. He allegedly learned the victim was mentally incapable due to medical issues and then acquired a pickup truck and rifle from the victim in a deal that placed the victim at a financial disadvantage.

When LCSO learned of the allegations in February of 2023, Church was placed on administrative leave, according to Sheriff Michelle Duncan. State records confirmed Church was discharged from LCSO March 13 and his police credentials are under review for possible revocation by the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training.

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