Deschutes sheriff fires two officers

Firings are the latest in long string of personnel difficulties

By Scott Hammers, The Bulletin

Two Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office employees were fired Thursday morning for unspecified violations of department policy.

Lt. Robert Trono, who worked at the Deschutes County jail, had been with the department since 2002, while patrol Sgt. Dan Bilyeu started with the sheriff’s office in 1994.

Sheriff Shane Nelson declined to speak in detail about the policy violations that led him to fire the two employees.

Trono was put on paid administrative in September, following a U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigation into a report of Trono building a firearm for a co-worker without a federal firearms license. That investigation, which started June 3, lasted less than a week and found Trono’s actions were not prosecutable.

Nelson said Friday the policy violations committed by Trono were uncovered during the investigation of his building of a firearm but were not directly related.

Bilyeu was put on paid leave in February, though Nelson did not elaborate on the details of what led to that decision or the decision to fire him Thursday. Nelson said only that Bilyeu was terminated due to policy violations stemming from on-duty conduct.

Nelson said he would be prepared to speak in greater detail about the investigations into both men at a later time. He said although both were fired on the same day, their violations of department policy are not connected.

Trono and Bilyeu are the latest in a flood of personnel upheavals at the sheriff’s office in recent years, during which the office has paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to employees on paid administrative leave.

Deputy Bradley Wright was fired in March as a result of grabbing a 67-year-old woman by the arm in the Fred Meyer parking lot following a minor traffic accident while he was off duty last Christmas Eve.

Capt. Scott Beard was sentenced to serve five years in prison in September, the conclusion of an investigation into his embezzlement of $200,000 from the department’s drug enforcement fund.

In March 2016, former Capt. Erik Utter, who led the agency’s patrol division, resigned after an internal investigation into his sexual relationship with a co-worker.

Lt. Tim Leak has been on paid leave since May 2016 and has filed a Bureau of Labor and Industries harassment complaint against the sheriff’s office and Nelson. Leak’s complaint is one of three harassment complaints levied against Nelson.

Asked Thursday if any additional personnel changes were on the way, Nelson said “not in the next couple of days.”

Nelson said the spate of investigations and firings has not hurt recruitment for the sheriff’s office. He said interviews with prospective patrol deputies last weekend and corrections deputies this week drew a large field of well-qualified candidates.

“The Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office is still held in high regard and has a great reputation, and we hear that from candidates who come to apply with our office and interview with our office,” he said.

— Reporter: 541-383-0387, shammers@bendbulletin.com

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