OREGON – A Deschutes County Commission candidate was convicted of stealing approximately 2,000 copies of a free paper in October and ordered to pay restitution to the publisher.
The now-defunct paper, The Current, was not a student-produced publication. But like many student papers, the bimonthly was free – which could make the ruling significant for the student press.
John Boyle was convicted of stealing The Current in October 1996 because of an article that angered him. According to The Bend Bulletin, Jeff Rola, publisher of The Current, said the theft cost him about $700 in restocking costs and refunds to advertisers.
A jury agreed the taking was criminal, convicting Boyle of second degree theft and awarding Rola $625 for the crime. Boyle was also forced to do between 62 and 80 hours of community service, and placed under a year of probation.
Prosecutors asked for a 15-day jail term for Boyle, but the judge denied the request. The maximum penalty for second degree theft, according to the Bulletin, is a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Boyle’s lawyer, Michael Seidel, argued the papers were free for his client to take.
“You may think that what Mr. Boyle did is really stupid. You may think it’s childish and petty and really annoying,” Seidel was quoted as saying in his closing arguments. “But what is important is whether or not the newspapers were free.”
“The Current was not published for John Boyle to go out and take every copy he could get his hands on. That’s common sense,” Deschutes County Chief Deputy District Attorney Tony Halbleib told the jury, according to the Bulletin.