Carlos Joaquin Barragan of Hermiston used to run one of the largest illegal drug operations in northeast Oregon. Last week he was in jail on charges for stealing jewelry, which came in the wake of ripping off the Hermiston Classics Car Club.
Barragan's family made restitution to the club, and Umatilla County Circuit Judge Christopher Brauer on Friday dismissed the theft case. According to the court documents, the Umatilla County District Attorney's Office "failed to provide all discovery [reports, documents and other evidence] to the defense."
Brauer dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning the state can charge Barragan again.
Barragan, 40, in 2009 helped set up the largest illegal marijuana crop in Grant County, and in 2011 in federal court he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to manufacture and deliver more than 1,000 marijuana plants. He served almost six years in the federal prison in Sheridan and returned to Hermiston.
Police there arrested him Nov. 17 and booked him into the Umatilla County Jail, Pendleton. Hermiston police Chief Jason Edmiston said Barragan is the subject of a drug possession case and the two theft cases, one involving the Hermiston Classics Car Club.
Larry Storment was the recent club president and recalled Barragan as a “nice, friendly guy.” They lived a couple doors apart, Barragan would visit when Storment rolled out his 1955 pickup, and Barragan hung with Storment’s son, Richard Storment, who state court records show has a criminal record. His last conviction was in 2008 for second-degree assault, a felony.
The car club needed a new treasurer, Larry Storment said, so he was handling the club’s checkbook and one day tucked it away inside his desk at home after paying a club bill. He said that’s when Barragan had access to the checkbook.
He took five checks from the book in early August, Storment said, and wrote them for $200 each and cashed four at a local bank machine.
“You can take checks to an ATM and 30 minutes later withdraw the money,” he said, and Barragan did that four times. He gave the fifth check, Storment said, to another guy who cashed it at a local credit union.
“That guy fled the country to Mexico, but Carlos they got,” he said.
The Umatilla County District Attorney’s Office charged Barragan on Nov. 19 with multiple counts of forgery and theft. His defense attorney, Herman Bylenga of Pendleton, filed to dismiss a month later because the parties reached a civil compromise. Storment said Barragan’s family made restitution and gave the club the $1,000 it was out, and that’s significant for the club’s work.
“We give that money away,” he said. “That’s what we do with it. We give it away to some needy organizations around town.”
Court records show Circuit Judge Christopher Brauer on Dec. 20 signed the motion to dismiss due to the restitution.
But the law was not done with Barragan. The district attorney on Dec. 23 charged him with first-degree theft. Edmiston said the charge stems from stealing jewelry worth more than $1,000 in November from residents at the Country Squire Estates, the trailer park at 1500 N.E. 10th St.
The dismissal nixed that case and freed Barragan.
Edmiston said there remains the matter of the drugs Barragan had on him at the time of his arrest, but he has yet to face any related charges.