HEPPNER, Oregon – Three people are now implicated in an auto theft ring that got broken up this week in Morrow County, and two of them are in the Umatilla County Jail. The arrests came in what appeared to be two separate incidents.
A car dealership in Pasco, which had three vehicles stolen, tracked them down via OnStar and disabled them at a motel in Boardman. Boardman police responded to the scene and arrested Michelle McLean, 40. She was at the motel, with the stolen and disabled vehicles.
Later that day, a farmer in Ione noticed two people in pickup trucks trespassing on a planted wheat field and notified the Morrow County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies responded, and the two vehicles left the scene, causing two pursuit operations that ended in crashes for both vehicles. Morrow County District Attorney Justin Nelson said the crashes were due to the suspects not knowing the local roads.
At one crash, Buddy Buoy, 42, was taken into custody and was jailed. The other crash resulted in an injury to the driver, Julia Kraus, 37, who was taken for treatment by Life Flight. Nelson says he’s working on the case against Kraus.
“The female that crashed was taken to the hospital,” he said. “At this time, I believe she has been released, but I don’t know her current whereabouts. We plan on taking this case through and charging all the suspects and putting their cases through a Morrow County grand jury early next week.”
It has since been determined that the two trucks driven by Buoy and Kraus were stolen from a dealership in Spokane. Nelson is trying to get his witnesses together for that grand jury hearing.
“When you have this many different victims from all across a couple of different states, it is a lot of work to get everyone set up in a very short period of time to appear before a grand jury. It is not an easy thing for us to do, and I credit my office for working hard to make this happen.”
Buoy and McLean are due in Morrow County Superior Court Wednesday, and Nelson would like to have the grand jury hear the case before that, so he can present its findings.
An internet search of the name Julia Kraus, 37, of Portland, indicates a woman matching those particulars was arrested for stealing a trailer full of merchandise from a Les Schwab store in Molalla in August. Nelson said that is information he will not be presenting to the grand jury, because it would not be admissible in the actual trial. He said past crimes don’t come into play in most cases until they enter the sentencing phase.
One exception to that would be if a person was arrested and charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. In that case, the previous felony charge would be admissible, but that is not the case here.
The investigation by the sheriff’s office, BPD, and Nelson’s office is continuing.