A former sheriff’s deputy from Gilliam and Wheeler counties could soon face charges he stole thousands of dollars from his elderly father.

The Deschutes County District Attorney confirmed he intends to bring charges against Russell Lee Mathiasen to a grand jury this month.

Mathiasen, 41, was investigated for stealing $10,000 from his 76-year-old father, who’s a resident of Awbrey Place Senior Living facility in Bend.

It’s alleged that while Mathiason had power of attorney over his father’s finances, he freely spent the older man’s money on phone bills and other services without his father’s knowledge or permission, according to District Attorney John Hummel.

In September, the Bend Police Department opened a criminal mistreatment case against the younger Mathiasen, who was then a Gilliam County sheriff’s deputy. He’s since left the agency.

A caseworker had reported that Arden “Butch” Mathiasen was thousands of dollars behind in rental payments to Awbrey Place and had no money left in his checking account, according to a search warrant request filed this month in circuit court.

Bend Police quickly determined the losses were due to Butch Mathiasen’s son.

Russell Mathiasen started his law enforcement career in Wheeler County after moving to Oregon in 2013, according to a cached page from the Gilliam County Sheriff’s Office website.

The next year, he was hired as a deputy and assigned to cover the city of Mitchell. In July 2018, he was hired by the Gilliam County Sheriff’s Office, where he served as a traffic safety deputy.

According to the Gilliam County website biography, Russell Mathiasen has a son and a wife and lives in Arlington in Gilliam County.

Butch Mathiasen told a detective he receives benefits from Veterans Affairs and Social Security, court documents state. He said he’d given his son power of attorney over his finances in 2004. It was his understanding his son would step in and manage his money if it was ever necessary, though he hadn’t reached that stage of his life, Butch Mathiasen told Detective Mitch Meyer in an interview at Awbrey Place.

Butch Mathiasen lived with his son and son’s family for about two years, but in 2017, he moved into the assisted living facility in Bend because his health was declining.

The elder Mathiasen told Meyer his son and his family had not visited or called in more than a year.

Reviewing the man’s finances, Meyer noticed “quite a bit” of activity each month since Butch Mathiasen moved to Awbrey Place, including recurring debit payments to Verizon, Uber and iTunes, the court documents state.

Butch Mathiasen was eventually able to transfer his accounts to a credit union.

He said he was worried what an arrest might mean for his son.

“Initially he was concerned Russ would lose his job if he were to be in trouble for stealing his money,” Meyer wrote in his report. “He told me that maybe this is what he deserved from Russ, having Russ steal from him, because he wasn’t a good dad to Russ.”

He told Meyer he’d been an alcoholic and once had to hand over Russ to Child Protective Services “when money was hard.”

Butch Mathiasen eventually requested OSP continue its investigation into his son.

“He continued to be remorseful but then came to the conclusion that Russ could not just steal from him,” Meyer wrote.

— Reporter: 541-383-0325, gandrews@bendbulletin.com

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