(Update: Adding no sentencing date set; could face two-year sentence)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – After a two-day non-jury trial, a judge on Wednesday found a former longtime Deschutes County sheriff’s deputy and detective guilty of two counts of official misconduct and not guilty on two other charges involving intimate photos transferred from a dead man’s phone to his own, and other alleged acts.
Crook-Jefferson County Circuit Judge Annette Hillman heard the Deschutes County case, in which the defense had waived a jury trial. She found Ron Brown, now 59, guilty of transferring the images with intent to obtain sexual gratification in late August of 2021, as well as obtaining a woman’s personal belongings for the same purpose in late December of 2021.
Hillman acquitted Brown on a count involving dissemination of an image of the woman engaged in sexual conduct, and a third count of official misconduct in which he was accused of directing the woman into his vehicle that December, in an unauthorized exercise of his official duties.
The judge said sentencing would be scheduled with the parties, and Brown's release was continued pending his next court appearance.
District Attorney Steve Gunnels said he was pleased with the outcome of the case and that Brown could face up to a two-year sentence as a result of the verdict.
Earlier, after the state rested its case, Hillman also heard and denied the defense attorney's motion for acquittal on all charges, which Gunnels said is a common procedure in which the defense claims the prosecution has not made its case.
The charges, filed in October 2022, alleged Brown was called to the scene of a death and that the man’s girlfriend asked him to delete intimate photos of her and her boyfriend from her boyfriend’s phone, so the family wouldn’t see them. Instead, he allegedly transferred the images to his phone.
Two months later, when the woman was being evicted from a motel, management denied her access to some personal items and she called Brown for help, then-District Attorney John Hummel said. He said Brown retrieved the items, falsely claiming he was on law enforcement business, and later told her to get in his car and she found he was aroused and watching pornography on his phone.
Brown pleaded not guilty to the charges last February, as his attorney sought a change of venue.
The sheriff’s office said Sheriff Shane Nelson put Brown on administrative leave upon learning of the allegations and that he retired during an internal affairs investigation.