By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
March 29, 2006
The state Attorney General’s office is pressing charges against Hood River resident Craig Marquardo for election fraud.
On Monday, Marquardo confirmed that he had been accused of “misstating facts” on last year’s candidate filing form. In February of 2005, he tossed his hat in the ring for a Hood River Port Commission seat.
He immediately began passing out a “credibility packet” to key officials in hopes of disproving a spate of bad press about his many claims to fame.
Marquardo listed one of his high-profile jobs as senior vice president of distribution for Warner Brothers. However, the human resources department of that company later refuted his employment claim. When a local citizen filed a complaint with the state elections division about Marquardo’s filing form, an investigation was launched into his listed achievements.
Marquardo, 33, said he has been unable to provide the state with proof of his professional background. He said it has been more than 10 years since he left that job so he no longer has pay stubs or tax returns in his records.
He said an executive of Warner Brothers has written a letter to the state disavowing any knowledge of his work history. But that is not surprising, said Marquardo, since Hollywood is known for its high turnover and the company has sold out its interests twice in the intervening years.
“They want to prove that I didn’t do something and I don’t have the paperwork to prove that I did, it’s that simple,” he said.
“On one hand I’d like to take this seriously because it is a felony charge. But, on the other hand, I just have to sit back and scratch my head because it is that absurd.”
Although he has hired an attorney to represent his interests in the criminal matter, Marquardo said he is not worried about the pending court action.
“Their chances of proving beyond a shadow of a doubt to a jury that I did something wrong is pretty tough,” he said.
Marquardo believes that he has satisfied the state inquiry into his registration of Columbia River Media, one of his two limited liability corporations. When he filed for candidacy to a public office on Feb. 28, 2005, Marquardo claimed the company was already officially established. In reality, he turned in the organizational forms to the state almost one month later.
“Basically I was trying to be as accurate as possible because I knew that it would be registered in the near future. I believe the state is satisfied with my intent,” said Marquardo.
Kevin Neely, spokesperson for the state office, declined to provide details about the case until Marquardo has been arraigned.
“The Department of Justice is working with the Hood River District Attorney on the matter and we’re continuing to pursue it,” he said.
Although Marquardo vowed after his resounding defeat last year to come out with a “multi-tiered” business plan, start a newspaper and film a movie about his life, none of those projects have materialized.
However, he said plans for all three ventures will move forward in the near future. He said it has taken longer to get everything organized since he is now working on a deal for multiple movies with a German distributor. He is also in the process of scoring more money from a Los Angeles financier.
“Things have gotten a bit bigger than we anticipated so it is just taking more time,” said Marquardo.
Although he referred several times to “we” in a telephone interview on Monday, Marquardo declined to provide the name of his business partner or partners.
He also said the charges being brought against him by the state do not refer to his claim of earning a Purple Heart in a Desert Storm battle.
During the 2005 campaign, Marquardo, a former sailor, asserted that he was awarded the honor after being shot twice and incurring a back injury during a secret mission involving Navy SEALS and Marine Corps Force Recon.
When challenged by area veterans over technicalities related to that story, Marquardo refused to make his Navy service records public.
The National Personnel Records Center supplied information disputing his ownership of the medal just days before the spring election.
The NPRC reported that Marquardo had received only the standard service medal — along with some type of nonjudicial discipline.
Marquardo has also garnered attention from a multitude of media sources for his self-professed role as a “Hollywood dealmaker.”
His listed achievements include presidency of a Florida motion picture company that never made a film.
He also has provided paperwork that names him as one of six to 10 producers on a series of hit movies — including Die Hard 2 and Pacific Heights.
However, an Internet search last year failed to associate his name with any of the mentioned films.
Marquardo, among other claims, is adamant that he won and lost his first million dollars by the age of 20 — after he had played professional baseball and performed as a backup singer for the band Sting.
Because of the bad press he received, Marquardo contends that a group of unnamed investors pulled out of a deal in 2003 to bring the Montreal Expos to Portland.