In his defense, John Chavez told a Jefferson County judge during a court hearing Monday, he had been too busy being mayor of Metolius to completely serve the sentence he received after pleading guilty to assault in April.
The judge didn’t see it that way.
Chavez, 54, has been the mayor of Metolius, a town of about 710 people south of Madras on state Highway 361, since 2016, when he ran unopposed. He was reelected in November after besting two challengers.
But Chavez also has a criminal record in Oregon stretching to the early 1990s, and two pending criminal matters — including the one at issue Monday — that could result in additional incarceration.
On May 13, 2018, Chavez was arrested and charged with harassment and assault constituting domestic violence for an attack on a blood relative.
About a year later, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months probation and 10 days in jail.
The court allowed Chavez to serve the sentence in segments, and set a deadline of July 1, 2019. But when the date came, Chavez had served only two days of his sentence — the time he served immediately after his arrest.
At the Madras Fourth of July parade, Chavez approached Jefferson County Sheriff Jim Adkins and greeted him before moving along. The sheriff would later learn from one of his deputies that Chavez had a warrant.
“I should have arrested him, not shook his hand,” Adkins said recently.
Chavez was eventually picked up by deputies July 12 — 12 days after the warrant was issued. The mayor was held over the weekend and on Monday went before Jefferson County Circuit Judge Annette Hillman.
She listened to his defense, but sent Chavez back to the Jefferson County jail.
Chavez was released from jail Thursday, his 10-day sentence complete. But he has a hearing scheduled in August to determine whether his probation will be revoked.
Chavez will be in court that week on a separate case stemming from a DUII arrest in February. At issue: whether his DUII diversion will be revoked due to alleged noncompliance.
Chavez was arrested after he was pulled over in his Toyota pickup on U.S. Highway 97 near the Deschutes-Jefferson county line, according to court records. He was charged with drunken driving and two other criminal counts and a month later, he agreed to enter DUII diversion.
With diversion, defendants who comply with conditions set by the court, will have their charges dismissed. If they don’t, they’ll be convicted and sentenced.
One of the conditions of Chavez’s diversion was to install an ignition interlock device in his vehicle. But on June 21, he was pulled over in his pickup and cited for not installing the device.
A longtime Metolius resident, Chavez was reelected as mayor by just one vote in the November general election — receiving 91 votes (34.6%) to 90 votes for Tryna Muilenberg (34.22%) and 79 votes for Carl Elliott (30.04%).
Chavez did not respond to emails or phone calls seeking comment.
Aside from the two pending cases, Chavez has been a defendant in eight criminal cases dating to the early 1990s, including for assaulting a police officer, assaulting a family member, disorderly conduct and possession of marijuana.
James Stratton Metolius city clerk and code enforcement officer, said Chavez’s legal problems were never brought before the City Council because they don’t involve violation of the city charter.
“In this case, it was a personal matter and a personal situation,” he said. “The rumor mill is something else.”
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