Ex-auditor called back to court

Former Skamania County official failed to fulfill probation terms

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

 
photoSkamania County's former auditor, John Michael Garvison, left, talks with his attorney, Jon McMullen, at an Oct. 25 hearing in Clark County Superior Court.

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photoSkamania County's former auditor, John Michael Garvison, left, listens to attorneys during an Oct. 25 hearing in Clark County Superior Court.

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A former Skamania County auditor, who pleaded guilty to shredding public documents, may face jail time for failing to complete the community service hours required under his probation.

John Michael Garvison, 41, of Oregon City, Ore., has been directed to appear Friday in front of Clark County Superior Court Judge Barbara Johnson to explain why he didn't complete the required hours. The case is being handled in Clark County to avoid any conflict of interest.

Skamania County probation officer Jamie Hepner has recommended that Garvison's 168 hours of community service be converted into 21 days in jail.

Garvison is required to complete 20 hours of community service per month in Skamania County until he reaches the 168-hour mark.

According to Hepner:

Garvison fulfilled his obligation in November. He checked in once at 10:27 a.m. Dec. 29 for community service in December but never checked back out, so it's unclear how many hours he worked. In January, he didn't show up at all, and last month, he completed only eight out of the 20 required hours.

Garvison didn't return a call to his cellphone number from The Columbian. His aunt Beth Garvison said she doesn't know where her nephew is or why he didn't complete his community service hours.

"I know he had surgery on his shoulder or bicep," she said. "We have been trying to find him because he owes us money."

She said she believes he works at Oregon City's 3D Electrical Services Inc. and lives with a cousin. His LinkedIn profile says he is operations manager at an electrical contractor.

In addition to community service, Garvison was required to pay Skamania County $62,000 in restitution and is not allowed to serve in a governmental finance management position again.

Garvison was investigated on suspicion of using thousands of dollars in public money for unauthorized travel, education and office equipment expenses during four years as the county's elected auditor.

The unauthorized expenses included 13 out-of-state trips, including two conferences in Florida and one in Las Vegas.

He resigned his position in November 2009 after news of the unauthorized expenses broke.

The state Attorney General's Office and the Skamania County Sheriff's Office investigated the possibility of theft or embezzlement charges.

The Columbian previously reported that an assistant attorney general, who was assigned the case, offered Garvison a plea bargain to a misdemeanor charge of official misconduct. Skamania County commissioners objected to the plea bargain and asked for the case to be returned to the county. A special prosecutor from Spokane charged Garvison in December 2011 with shredding public documents.

The case was moved to Clark County because of extensive pre-trial publicity.

As part of his guilty plea, Garvison admitted that between Jan. 1, 2009, and Feb. 28, 2009, he ordered his staff to destroy the records showing his expenditures in 2003 and 2004.


Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Courts; paris.achen@columbian.com.