Malheur County sheriff: No crime by Enterprise staff

VALE – Brian Wolfe, Malheur County sheriff, announced Wednesday that his office is ending its inquiry into allegations the Malheur Enterprise engaged in criminal conduct in its reporting.

Wolfe had been asked to consider whether newspaper employees committed crimes by contacting officials of the Malheur County Economic Development Department by email and by phone outside of office hours. Greg Smith, a state legislator and director of the department, had complained that contacts by the newspaper were harassment.

“We will not be opening an investigation,” Wolfe said.

He said his office was provided emails by Stephanie Williams, the Malheur County counsel who sought the investigation. He said no phone records or other documents were provided to support allegations of illegal telephone contact.

Wolfe said the only crimes that could have been considered were telephone harassment or harassment.

“The elements weren’t there,” Wolfe said.

He said a component of both crimes is that someone makes threats.

“We just didn’t have that – any threats,” Wolfe said. “It is closed.”

Wolfe said his office has received calls from around the country when news went out about a possible investigation.

“We believe in free speech and freedom of the press,” Wolfe said. “As long as I’m here, that will not be violated.”

This story will be updated.