That's how they roll in Homedale: Reserve Officer Antonucci of the Homedale Police Department, acting on a petty, bogus complaint from Deputy Daryl Crandall, seizes a campaign sign from the front yard of city resident Tony Lopez. Once a supporter of Crandall, Lopez changed his mind and altered the sign -- which had been given to him as personal property -- to reflect that fact. Crandall filed a complaint alleging that the alteration constituted "malicious injury to property," a charge carrying a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. (Photo courtesy of Tony Lopez)
[This is the second of a series of articles triggered by the incident recorded in the photograph above -- the attempt to punish a law-abiding resident of a small Idaho town for displaying a campaign sign that offended an active-duty deputy who is running for the position of County Sheriff. This installment looks into the troubled background of that candidate, Daryl Crandall.]
Molly King met Daryl Crandall in May 2000 in the worst possible circumstances.
Both of them were residents of the microscopically small community of Banks, Oregon. She was president of the local Homeowners' Association; he was Chief of the town's three-man police department. And he had been sent with a sealed warrant for her arrest on a charge of felony theft.
"I was a single mother of four children," King recalled to Pro Libertate. "I was unemployed for a while, and facing foreclosure, so I filed for unemployment benefits. After I got a job I continued to draw benefits for a little while. As it happens, I was caught through a random audit, and so I was indicted. I'd seen Daryl around town, and we knew each other slightly, so he was very casual when he came to arrest me. But that was why he was there, and that's how we really met."
When she was informed of the purpose of the visit, Molly made an unusual request. Her father was recovering from a serious accident, and a family celebration was planned for that weekend in Las Vegas. She asked if it would be all right for her to go to Vegas for the family gathering, and then arrange for her arrest when she returned.
Despite the fact that he was aiding the flight of an indicted felon, Crandall agreed. In fact, as Molly recalls the event, Crandall flatly told her that he wouldn't arrest her.
"I didn't ask [for this], as I really thought there was no way on God's green earth a cop would do such a thing," Molly insists. "Absolutely I was distraught and upset but I never asked to not be arrested. That was something Mr. Crandall volunteered to me. He told me he wasn't going to arrest me - `Just take care of it right away when you get back.' Which is what I did."
According to Molly, this would not be the last time Daryl Crandall set aside the law on her behalf.
True to her word, Molly turned herself in once she was back from Vegas. She was convicted of class "C" felony theft and sentenced to restitution: This meant that she was on probation until she repaid the State of Oregon $4400 in welfare benefits.
In short order, Molly and Daryl began living together. This happened before Crandall had finalized his divorce from his first wife, Pam. By making this arrangement Crandall not only displayed bad moral judgment, he violated the terms of conduct for his position as a police chief, which specified that he could not associate with convicted felons.
Daryl and Molly were together until May 2003, when Crandall -- at the urging of a City Council member -- resigned as Police Chief in order to avoid being fired.
City officials accused Crandall of misappropriating municipal funds and misusing city property; Crandall has dismissed the matter as a dispute arising from a the machinations of a disgruntled subordinate.
Daryl persuaded Molly to accompany him back to Idaho, and the couple took up residence in an RV outside Middleton in July 2003. Crandall was able to get a job with as head of security at the Boise Town Square shopping mall.
"He complained constantly about that job," Molly told me during a telephone interview. "I'd hear at length and in detail how much he hated what he was doing, and how badly everybody who worked with him was treating him." Thus it was an act of mercy when this exercise in occupational strife ended in December 2003.
Hey, where are the sign police now? This anti-Crandall campaign sign made by Tony Lopez has been defaced by graffiti. Curiously -- or, rather, not -- neither Crandall nor his clique on the Homedale PD has been zealous to apprehend this malicious vandal.
In the course of a year, Daryl Crandall had managed to lose two jobs in law enforcement, assuming that shopping mall rent-a-cops belong in that category.
Yet this individual, whose Peter Principle ceiling was the the exalted station of shopping mall cop, was able to arrange employment with the Owyhee County Sheriff's Office in early 2004. How was this possible?
I posed that question to a second source who has examined Crandall's background in detail. "Well, Owyhee County is a very thinly populated rural territory, and the Sheriff's Office doesn't pay that well," he told me. "It's not like they've got a lot of people applying for the deputy positions, and sometimes they just have to take what they get."
The second source, who served as a police officer in Idaho for more than a quarter-century, points out that the Owyhee County Sheriff's Office (OCSO), like the Banks, Oregon police department and most other law enforcement bodies, has a code of conduct forbidding officers to associate with convicted felons. Yet Crandall continued to live together with Molly after he was hired by the OCSO.
Among the items of paperwork Molly can produce to corroborate her testimony is a lease the two of them signed on a rental property.
Crandall would eventually move out and leave Molly to pay the lease off by herself; assuming the statute of limitations hasn't expired, she intends to pursue a small claims action against him at the earliest opportunity.
Hanging out with(Photo courtesty of Molly King)
a convicted felon:
Daryl Crandall, as photographed during an excursion
in an OCSO-owned
by Molly King,
the felon in question.
a convicted felon:
Daryl Crandall, as photographed during an excursion
in an OCSO-owned
by Molly King,
the felon in question.
Prior to that rupture, Daryl and Molly seemed to get along, even though she had substantial and growing misgivings about his character.
"When I met Daryl, I thought he was an attractive, charming, ethical man," she explained to me. "For a long time I sympathized with him over the problems he was having at work. Back in Banks, both he and I had some problems with the Mayor, so when he lost that job, I thought he might have been the victim of office politics. When he lost the [mall security] job, I once again believed that he had been treated badly, and was glad when he was hired out at Owyhee."
To get the job at the OCSO, however, Crandall had to pass a polygraph test that would ask some fairly detailed questions about his background. Molly claims that he was quite concerned about inquiries regarding criminal behavior. She recounts helping him to download from the Web and publish an entire book describing how to fool a polygraph test. (In the interest of candor, I must admit that I consider the polygraph to be just a little less scientifically plausible than a Ouija board.)
Good times: Daryl Crandall, out for a pleasant expedition on an OCSO-owned ATV. (Photo courtesy of Molly King.)
Once he had been hired by the OCSO, Crandall made an interesting prediction to Molly: As she tells it, immediately after being taken on as a deputy he told her that within five years, he'd be the Sheriff.
Within a few months, that prospect began to worry Molly.
"There were several times he tried to get me involved in illegal activities," she attests. "There were times he'd bring home confiscated drugs, or confiscated alcohol, and just left it sitting there in the house. One day, for instance, he brought home a paper sack that was stapled shut with an `evidence' tag on it. He told me it was marijuana, and asked me if I wanted to smoke it or sell it. I couldn't believe it: Here I am, a convicted felon, and this guy who's a deputy is inviting me to commit a drug offense. Not only did I say `no,' I said -- please excuse me -- `Oh, f*** no!'"
Molly also claims to have seen Crandall consuming alcohol that was seized from minors during kegger raids. She describes many instances in which she was taken on ride-alongs in the passenger seat of OCSO vehicles, a practice not permitted for non-department personnel even when they, unlike Molly, have no felony convictions. She asserts that he routinely misused County funds to purchase gasoline for his personal use.
As he became more entrenched in the OCSO, Crandall became more arrogant, at least as he was perceived by his paramour.
"He seemed to think that he was untouchable, and yet at the same time there was this constant sense of victimhood, these continuing complaints that the whole world was mistreating him," Molly recalled.
Stipulating that I don't know Daryl Crandall, I'm constrained to point out that Molly's description of his personality comports with what I'd expect from someone who would file a criminal complaint against someone who displayed a sign opposing his candidacy for sheriff.
Not long before she broke up with Crandall, Molly was along for a ride on a summer evening when they came across an ancient, battered vehicle parked at the side of a rural road. Inside the car was a man she describes as being on the far side of the Biblical threescore-and-ten, who was sleeping in the front seat.
Crandall approached the car. After finding the ancient tatterdemalion to be drunk and helpless, he arrested him for DUI -- a charge that made a dubious fit, given that the man hadn't actually been observed operating the vehicle -- cuffed him, and stuffed him in the backseat.
By the most extravagant allowances reasonable people should make, this action may have been defensible, if the intention were to prevent harm from coming to either the intoxicated elderly man or someone with whom he might end up sharing the road.
Not long ago, when peace officers more frequently displayed common sense and were permitted broader discretion, a situation of this sort might have been handled with an exceptionally soft touch: Think of how the fictional-only-in-the-details Sheriff Andy Taylor dealt with Mayberry's resident liver-molester Otis Campbell, and you'll get the general idea.
Molly,who observed the arrest from the front seat of an OCSO vehicle, insists that it appeared to be totally unnecessary, and says that Crandall's conduct was substantially less than professional.
"He really loved the soundtrack to the movie `O Brother, Where Art Thou?'" Molly relates. "So when we had this poor guy in the backseat [of the OCSO vehicle], he turned to the old fellow and said, `Hey, guess what song you'll be singing tonight?' Then he turned on the stereo and played `In the Jailhouse Now,' and sang along with it the whole way into town. He really humiliated that poor guy."
From the account provided by my second source, a private investigator who has collected a substantial dossier on Crandall at the behest of concerned Owyhee County citizens, the incident Molly describes is not atypical of the would-be Sheriff's law enforcement career, a subject Crandall has done his best to swaddle in an impenetrable blanket of non-disclosure.
Crandall has stolidly refused to answer questions from the press about his personal or professional background. Proving that he is tone-deaf to irony, he has waged his campaign on the theme of improving communications between the sheriff's office and the residents of Owyhee County.
On October 29, he published a paid advertisement in the Owyhee Avalanche -- a weekly newspaper published in Homedale -- condemning critics who have supposedly circulated untruths about his family life and background. The ad included a telephone number and an invitation for people to call and discuss such matters with him. Calls made by both myself and some associates were recorded on an answering machine.
This is in keeping with Crandall's performance during the entire campaign: He has never answered a single question regarding his personal history as a law enforcement officer. And since personnel files are purged after ten years, it's exceptionally difficult to reconstruct work histories. The private investigator, who did his considerable best to accomplish that task, sketched out a troubling portrait during a long interview in his home on October 31.
Crandall graduated from High School in 1981, served in the US Navy, and graduated from the Idaho Peace Officers Standards and Training academy (I-POST) in 1987. His first documentable position was with the Blaine County Sheriff's Department; it lasted a matter of months before he was fired for unnecessarily beating a suspect with a pair of sap gloves (which are weighted with steel shot and augment a punch much more effectively than a pair of brass knuckles).
He was briefly employed by the Homedale police before "being asked to leave." His next stop was with the Canyon County Sheriff's Office, where he worked in the jail. Either through an oversight or by way of deliberate provocation, Crandall left a mop where it could be used as a weapon, and one inmate ended up beating another one nearly to death. This resulted in a lawsuit against Canyon County (Zamora v. George Nurse), and in Crandall again being "asked to leave."
Crandall turned up in Hailey, Idaho, and then in Glenns Ferry, his hometown. After migrating to Idaho City in the early 1990s, he got a job on the force only to lose it after an incident in which he attacked a citizen -- not a criminal suspect, mind you, but a citizen with whom he was having an argument -- with a stun gun. This led to Crandall "being run out of town," as the private investigator put it.
Eventually Crandall ended up in Banks, Oregon, starting as an officer in 1998 and becoming chief of the three-man unit in 2001. His sudden resignation-ahead-of-firing in May 2003, according to this source, was centered in a scandal involving the department's petty cash. At the time Crandall was chief, his signature was sufficient to gain access to the petty cash; when an audit found a shortfall of about $10,000, that policy was changed, and Crandall was asked to leave.
That brought Crandall -- with Molly in tow -- back to Idaho, where he is now offering himself as a gift to the voters of the state's second-largest county.
Once again, the foregoing is more an exercise in forensic pointillism than an effort to construct a photo-realistic portrait of Crandall's law enforcement career -- such as it is. He has -- once again -- been persistently, artlessly evasive about his experience, qualifications, and elements of his personal life that have a bearing on his suitability to serve as the paramount peace officer in Owyhee County.
After he defeated his boss, Sheriff Gary Aman, in a May Republican primary, and persuaded his one-time rival to withdraw from the race, Crandall faced no opposition. Aman was persuaded by hundreds of county residents to stage a write-in campaign, a route that is fraught with difficulties.
There is a legitimate possibility that Crandall could succeed in supplanting his boss, leaving Owyhee County with a Sheriff whose background and demonstrated weaknesses make him unusually compromisable -- by criminal elements that infest the county, certainly, but also, and much more dangerously, by the Feds.
Dum spiro, pugno!