A former employee at the Oregon Department of Revenue is facing a slew of criminal charges after pocketing a local dispensary’s payroll tax payment. Because federal banking laws restrict banks from protecting money from the cannabis industry, legal weed tax payments are almost always made in cash, making them easy targets for state-employed criminals.
According to the Oregon Cannabis Connection, Salem police have arrested Theodore Raymond Paulsen, 55, on counts of first degree theft, mail theft, first-degree official misconduct and just for good measure, possession of methamphetamine. Because of the banking restrictions, the stolen tax payments were in the form of Western Union money orders, and were not uncovered until state officials notified the dispensary owner that they had not received the expected payment.
Ed Medina, the victim of the crime and owner of A Better Way Medicinal Alternative in Klamath Falls, OR, told the Cannabis Connection that he received a letter from the local Department of Revenue inquiring about the supposedly missed payment, and was met with hostility when he called local law enforcement to try and rectify the situation. Even with Paulsen’s signature on documents necessary to cash in the money orders, Medina says he was given the cold shoulder by almost every official or cop he talked to.
“After multiple contacts with the Department of Revenue explaining the situation, and getting no help whatsoever, I contacted multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Postmaster General, Oregon Department of Justice, Klamath Falls Police, Oregon State Police, Marion County Sheriff’s department, and Salem Police. Each of those agencies claimed it wasn’t their jurisdiction,” Medina said. “I got the runaround for two days straight. I explained that I had copies of all of the documents, including copies of the signer for the certified mail, and copies of the forged and cashed money orders.”
Paulsen’s fingerprints were all over the crime, so once Medina convinced Salem PD officers to look into it and essentially performed their job for them by sending over clear evidentiary documents, an investigation was opened and an arrest was quickly made. Still, Medina was less than impressed with law enforcement’s response to a crime committed by a state employee against a legal business paying their required state taxes.
“All in all, it felt as if all [the agencies] involved did not feel this was a priority, or something they wanted to deal with,” Medina said. “It was obvious that they all expected me to just drop it, but I persisted.”
Medina told reporters that he was made to feel like a second-class citizen for his involvement in the cannabis industry, despite the millions of dollars and thousands of jobs legal weed has brought to the state. The case once again highlights the need for a safe banking system for canna-businesses. Until then, Medina says, the law-abiding businesses will always be subject to unnecessary hassles from both state and federal government, and opportunistic criminals.
“If we were allowed to have a bank account, all of this could have been avoided,” said Medina. “I also believe this should exemplifies the dangers of our industry due to the unfair laws and regulations … It shows the double standard imposed on cannabis businesses, and the jeopardy it puts us in.”