BEND, Ore. — In the eyes of many Redmond residents, Larry Prince stole the trust of an entire community when he was caught stealing and selling dozens of his own station’s firearms.On Thursday, the ex-Redmond police lieutenant learned his fate for the crimes: 90 days in jail. Prosecutors and defense lawyers had agreed on a 60-day sentence.
But Deschutes County Circuit Judge Wells Ashby added 30 days, saying that Prince’s conduct had stained the Redmond police department, where he was a lieutenant.Prince was also sentenced to five years of probation, and he’s forced to give up all guns and ammunition and all of his police certification.”We have an awful lot of people at the Redmond police department that don’t commit crimes and go out and work their butt off every day,” said Capt. Brian McNaughton.In a whirlwind scandal, the badge of an entire police force, tarnished by one of their very own; Prince, who stole and sold his station’s guns for years.
How’d he get away with it? Prince was the only person in charge of the firearm inventory, but when he was removed from the position, records didn’t add up.As the scope of the discrepancies grew, Redmond police knew it was time to turn over the investigation to Oregon State Police.”Everybody would have wondered, ‘Who else is there at the Redmond Police Department that they’re protecting?'” said McNaughton.Prince recently pleaded guilty to five counts of theft, two counts of official misconduct and one count of first-degree forgery.
On Thursday, Ashby sentenced Prince to the 90 days behind bars (which he began serving Aug. 11 when the preliminary plea deal was reached), along with five years probation, 100 hours of community service and writing an apology letter.The former lieutenant will get credit for time served.Before the sentence was handed down, Ashby gave Prince, who appeared by video from the jail and barely looked up, a chance to speak to the court. He declined.”We talked to every victim in the case — none of them wanted to see him go to prison,” said DA Patrick Flaherty. That’s because the victims, mainly the police and the people who bought guns from Prince, want their money back.Prince owes them more than $27,000 in restitution.
“He certainly wouldn’t be paying the restitution back while he’s in the penitentiary, and we wouldn’t have any way to compel him to pay it back,” said Flaherty.Some say it would have been different — and a more harsh sentence — if Prince weren’t a cop. Flaherty told NewsChannel 21 Prince’s plea deal was very much influenced by his cooperation during the investigation, and getting the ex-lieutenant to “pay back” the people he stole from.
McNaughton, who 20 years ago stood shoulder to shoulder with Prince as they were sworn in as reserve officers, said taking that oath put Prince and himself in a position of power.”You may say, ‘I think it should be worse because he was in a position of trust, being a police officer,’ and you may be right,” said McNaughton.And a few people we talked to on the streets of Redmond agreed that he should have faced more penalties for what he did.
“It’s a help, if he had to fess up to all that he’s done wrong,” said one resident. “But to the people and the people that he hurt, there’s never going to be quite enough compensation.”Another said, “Apology letter? I mean, maybe it sounds good to the court, but as a taxpayer, that doesn’t do much for me — not at all.”