By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
April 22, 2006
Hood River County fugitive Nathan Simpson was arrested on Monday after his booking photo aired on television.
“I couldn’t believe it, I saw his face and I thought, ‘This can’t be happening to me,’” said Adena Harmon, a resident of Multnomah County.
She said it was difficult to believe that her new “attorney,” who went by the name of Brian Gallegos, was wanted on parole violations. Or that he wasn’t a Portland lawyer at all, but a felon who had just been released from the Oregon State Penitentiary.
What Harmon had yet to learn was that Simpson, 25, who claimed to be from Italy, had taken her $150 check for a retainer and duplicated it. So, her bank account was down by hundreds of dollars for expenditures that she had not authorized.
Even without knowing the full scope of her victimization, Harmon wanted to see Simpson held accountable for his actions. She had responded to his posting for legal services in the Nickel Ads — and she guessed others had also.
So Harmon called 9-1-1 on April 17 to report that she knew where to find the wanted subject. In fact, she had an appointment to pick up her legal paperwork from him that day. Their meeting was scheduled to take place in a hotel lobby near the Portland International Airport.
She also informed the manager of the hotel about what was going to happen. And he confirmed that Simpson was on the premises.
“When he said that Nathan was there I parked across the street to wait,” she said.
Once Harmon knew that Simpson had been taken into custody — without any sign of the papers he had promised — she walked up to the patrol car to deliver a terse message.
“You are one stupid bastard and I’m going to make sure everyone knows who you are,” she said. “You should have seen his face, it was to die for.”
Within the next few hours, Harmon got a call from Simpson’s live-in girlfriend. She had called the last number registered on his cell phone.
Harmon then learned that Simpson had gone on a spending spree with the 18-year-old female — only they had no money in the bank. The woman, who resides on 82nd Avenue, told Harmon that he had racked up thousands of dollars in outstanding bills. He reportedly had deposited phony payments into their account. And then wrote checks for goods until the bank caught on to the scheme.
The day before his arrest, Simpson had allegedly promised his distraught girlfriend that he would go to the bank and “fix the problem.”
According to Harmon, a male friend of Simpson also made contact with her. He claimed to have been given a bad check for the purchase of a Land Rover and left with $90,000 of other bills.
Harmon said Simpson gave every appearance of being affluent, especially when he discussed details about buying a $2 million home in Tualatin.
“He acted like it was just something that he was accustomed to doing,” she said. “This is one of the craziest things that I’ve ever dealt with.”
Harmon had no idea that Simpson had failed to appear in a Multnomah County court on March 22 to enter a plea on theft, forgery and identity theft charges. Or that he had not reported to Hood River Parole Officer Bill Nix within 24 hours of getting released from the metro jail on March 20.
In January, Simpson had been able to convince Washington County Judge Thomas Kohl to give him 36 months of probation instead of more prison time. He had been transported from Salem for the court appearance where he pleaded guilty to paying $9,727 toward a new vehicle with a bad check.
Kohl opted not to add 13 months onto Simpson’s prison sentence because the “offender cooperated with the State.”
Nix said Simpson was convicted in the local Circuit Court May 4, 2005, for purchasing a $42,000 pickup by writing a phony check to the dealership. He later dropped the vehicle off at a gasoline station on the west end of town and informed the rightful owners where to find it.
Nix tracked down Simpson, who was already his client after being convicted in August of 2004 for writing bad checks.
Simpson was sitting in the Multnomah County jail when his prison term expired March 3. He knew that Nix expected a visit as soon as he was released from custody.
Instead, he disappeared and both Portland and Hood River County law enforcement authorities immediately issued warrants from his arrest.
Nix went as far as to post Simpson’s photo and biographical information in the Hood River News. That data was picked up by KPTV-12 and brought to Harmon’s attention on the morning news.
“He appears to be using the same pattern and the same behaviors over and over again,” said Nix.
He said Simpson is now being held in Multnomah County Inverness Jail and the three jurisdictions involved in his crime sprees will coordinate his court appearances for old and new cases.