Brazen bike thief appears in court facing prison sentence and $250,000 bail

Posted by on November 18th, 2015 at 11:48 am

Parsons appeared via video at the Justice Center in downtown Portland this morning.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s office is sick and tired of Leroy Parsons gaming the system.

Parsons, arguably Portland’s most brazen and prolific perpetrator of bike theft, appeared in court today. He was arrested last week for bike theft and the DA has upgraded his charges to include 16 total counts, including nine felony charges (several of which are for bike theft) and an increased bail amount aimed in keeping him locked up until sentencing.

If convicted on all counts Parsons could face a lengthy prison term. But that’s a big if.

“He treats the victimization of our citizens and visitors as a game.”
— Multnomah County DA’s office in a motion to enhance Parson’s bail

Parson’s criminal history dates back to 1987 and his most recent arrest came on November 6th after he was caught with a bait bike put out by cable TV show Inside Edition. While that arrest came with just one theft charge, the DA has now upgraded the charges against Parsons.

In a motion and affidavit filed Tuesday (PDF here), Deputy DA Kevin Demer stated that given Parson’s criminal history and a temptation to flee in the face of a likely prison sentence, he should be held in jail with a bail amount of $250,000.

The state feels these stepped up measures are justified in part because, according to the DA’s motion, Parsons has been mentioned in 200 police reports and has been booked and arrested 98 times.

“I promise you I’ll get away with a lot more than I’ll get caught for… So let’s play and see who wins.”
— Parsons during a conversation with a police officer in 2014.

The DA added to its case by using Parson’s own words against him. He has boasted about his theft skills many times, several of which have been caught on camera.

In June 2014 Parsons got into one of his somewhat frequent conversations with Portland Police Officer David Sanders (well-known to many of you for his dedication to the bike theft problem). Sanders has been tracking Parsons for years at his various camp sites on streets throughout Portland. Sanders frequently sees him in possession of stolen bikes, laptops, cell phones, and other high-end equipment.

The statements below came from Parsons during one of his conversations with Sanders (recorded via a body camera). They were referenced in the DA’s motion:

“I can be a better thief than you will ever know.”

“I promise you I’ll get away with a lot more than I’ll get caught for. I promise you. So let’s play and see who wins.”

“You know who’s going to pay? Your little citizens, cuz I don’t care. I promise you I don’t get [sic] a fuck now.”

On one occasion, Officer Sanders took a stolen bike from Parsons and then let him go. As Parsons walked away he said, “I’m going to get another one right now.”

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The charges against Parsons.

The DA’s motion further states that Parsons and Sanders have even been in bike chases!

“… The defendant has tried to outride Ofc. Sanders when Ofc. Sanders would try to stop the defendant to retrieve a stolen bike the defendant was riding.”

Parsons also admitted to stealing expensive bikes during a KGW news segment back in March.

In addition to bike theft Parsons has been arrested several times for methamphetime use and possession as well as gun-related crimes.

“He treats the victimization of our citizens and visitors as a game,” DA Demer stated in the motion.

At court this morning, Parsons appeared on a video screen in his blue jail uniform. When his case was presented to Judge Steven Reed, his defense counsel stated that Parsons pleads “not guilty” to the charges against him. The DA then stood up and told the judge about his motion. The judge hadn’t reviewed the documents yet and said since Parsons will be in jail until at least November 25th, the court will take up the case again at that time.

So, the cogs of justice will keep grinding on. Fortunately the DA does not appear to be taking this case lightly.

We’ll have more coverage as this case evolves. Stay tuned.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

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53 Comments
  • Avatar
    Todd Hudson November 18, 2015 at 11:59 am

    Leroy might, this time, be eligible for Measure 57’s enhanced sentencing requirements, which could put him away for three years. I’m not a lawyer though, and don’t totally understand how that works. Anyone have some insight?

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      Tom Hardy November 18, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      What ever happened to the three strikes laws?

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        Todd Hudson November 20, 2015 at 10:11 am

        Oregon doesn’t have one. And they’re kinda a bad idea – California’s prison population skyrocketed due to three strikes laws.

        A thirty-strikes law would be a good idea though – that would probably apply to every bike thief on PPB’s “bike theft most wanted” list.

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        Pojaco November 20, 2015 at 11:26 am

        That’s a California law, not an Oregon law.

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    Peter R November 18, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    ARRESTED 98 TIMES!

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      9watts November 18, 2015 at 5:45 pm

      How can our system be this broken? Talk about a waste of everyone’s time. Why arrest him 98 times if nothing comes of it?!

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    David Lewis November 18, 2015 at 12:19 pm

    Leroy Parsons isn’t the only person committing these crimes. Sensationalizing one dude’s actions and celebrating his prosecution is one thing, but he’s no Mackie Messer. There are plenty of other methamphetamine addicts ready and willing to take his place.

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      Todd Boulanger November 18, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      Yes, but perhaps they do not have his self “reputed” skill set [yet].

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      LC November 18, 2015 at 2:08 pm

      So, ignore the entire problem because it isn’t being caused by one person? Perfect being the enemy of good and all that..

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    WD November 18, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    This guy gets charged with a felony for pinching property, but you can kill someone with your car in this town and get away with a traffic ticket. Keep it classy, Portland.

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      JRB November 18, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      It’s a lot easier to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone intended to steal a bike than it is to prove that someone intended to hit someone with their car, but you probably already knew that.

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        LC November 18, 2015 at 2:09 pm

        When operating heavy machinery, negligence is the equivalent of intent.

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        Pete November 18, 2015 at 2:17 pm

        True, but lack of intention doesn’t equate to lack of negligence. People are often remorseful for injuries or deaths they could have easily prevented by taking such simple steps as slowing down or paying attention. If you witnessed the trial of Melanie Souza of San Jose who killed Stan Wicka while she was texting, you’d know exactly what I mean.

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          JRB November 18, 2015 at 2:31 pm

          Never suggested otherwise, but intent or knowing conduct is an element of nearly all criminal offenses. Wrongs that are the result of negligence are addressed by the civil justice system. Remorse is not relevant to determining whether a wrong done is a civil or criminal or whether a wrong has been done. Courts do sometimes take it into account when making criminal sentencing decisions.

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            Pete November 18, 2015 at 3:49 pm

            Negligence is definitely an element in criminal cases, which is why investigators and prosecutors have the right to subpoena cell phone records from providers, and the outcome of criminal cases factor heavily in ensuing civil cases. Prosecutors face a heavy burden to prove criminal negligence, though, and proof is often based on a lengthy record of (getting caught) making the same mistake repeatedly.

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        Spiffy November 18, 2015 at 2:46 pm

        you should be prosecuted for your actions, not for your thoughts…

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          JRB November 18, 2015 at 2:54 pm

          right, because there is no difference between someone who mows somebody down intentionally and the driver who its someone because they took their eyes off the road to look at their cellphone. Not likely that we are going to go back on a thousand years of legal tradition that states that crime not only requires a bad act, but also bad thoughts that led to that act.

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            Spiffy November 18, 2015 at 3:20 pm

            you’re right, a thousand years is a long time… I just want to go back 100 years where killing somebody with your car was murder…

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      Pete November 18, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      Sadly, that ain’t just Portland.

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    Todd Boulanger November 18, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    A big thank you for the MCDA and others for moving forward to prosecution for this “alleged” [on video] property crime.

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    Justin Gast November 18, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    He’s been arrested 98 times, charged dozens of times with bike theft, yet this time it will be different? I’ll believe when I see it.

    I got an idea, if you’re caught more than once stealing property, you lose a hand and foot for each subsequent arrest. Lawful amputation would teach folks to think twice.

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      meh November 18, 2015 at 1:30 pm

      You mean the same way ISIS does it??

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        Spiffy November 18, 2015 at 2:47 pm

        I suspect there aren’t many people stealing from ISIS due to the very real consequences…

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          Chris I November 19, 2015 at 8:31 am

          Sounds great. When are you moving to Syria?

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      JRB November 18, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      Sounds like you would be more comfortable living in Saudi Arabia.

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      Spiffy November 18, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      even just a finger would be fine… you’ll get progressively worse at it with each digit lost, but if you quit in time you still have some usable ones…

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        paikiala November 18, 2015 at 4:17 pm

        violates the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

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          Adam November 19, 2015 at 11:16 am

          Frequency changes the unusual to usual and what can be counted as cruel is always up for debate.

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    Mark November 18, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    This guy lives the thug life and views himself as above the law in all ways. That’s why he is a danger. This isn’t a one off deal….they know he will upgrade to killing. If he already hasn’t .

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      rainbike November 18, 2015 at 1:00 pm

      Objection, Your Honor. This is outrageous speculation.

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      Granpa November 18, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      Firearm charges are on his rap sheet. Those things aren’t just for show.

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      Gary B November 18, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      Ah yes, the gateway crime. There’s absolutely nothing between a bike thief and killing people, they’re basically the same.

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        Pete November 18, 2015 at 3:26 pm

        Maybe the meth is the catalyst?

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        mark November 19, 2015 at 9:41 am

        Are you serious? This isn’t just a “bike thief”? This guy is an opportunist. Tell you what, you pick up his bail. Make sure your wife and daughter are down there to transport him anywhere he wants to go on release.

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    Josh Chernoff November 18, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    After knowing the fact that he has been arrested no less than 98 times I’m not sure who I should be more scared or and angry at. The man committing the crimes or the system allowing it. I dare anyone of you to excuses the system’s role in this based on priority. The notion of priority is that it will at some point be addressed and yet after 20, no 30, wait I mean 50, oh thats wrong what I really mean was 80 times you would have to accept that it is just blatant incompetence of the system.

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      JRB November 18, 2015 at 1:52 pm

      Not defending, but I would like to know all the facts before making a judgment. Of those arrests, how many times was he convicted? Of what crimes? What were his sentences?

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      Randall S. November 19, 2015 at 3:47 pm

      “The system” isn’t incompetent; it’s underfunded. There’s 165 cases on the Multnomah County DA docket for just today. (It’s on their website).

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    jeff November 18, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    Remember the esplanade attack earlier in the year? That’s your guy.

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      Paul H November 18, 2015 at 2:35 pm

      If Leroy Parsons is indeed the Esplanade attacker, then I have a story to tell.

      I’ve only spoken to the woman who was attacked once. It was a few years ago, and she’d fallen when hitting some ice. She was fine. I haven’t spoken to her since.

      On the other hand, we’ve waved to each other hundreds of times; our commuting paths have taken us in opposite directions at the same time for several years. She was definitely a year-round bike commuter.

      Since the attack, however, I have never seen her riding alone during non-daylight hours. She’s always accompanied by a male rider.

      Again, if this is the guy who attacked her, failure to take action has led at least one rider — who rides in rain, cold, wind, and even snow — to lose some personal freedom.

      I doubt there’s any policy change appropriate to that story, but it makes the social impact of current policies a little clearer.

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        Spiffy November 18, 2015 at 3:25 pm

        we always remember the bad… many of us know people that won’t ride on the street due to the possibility of getting run over by a driver that will face no real consequences… they love riding and want to do it more…

        there are people that won’t ride the bus because of the time that urine-soaked homeless person yelled at them… they liked the idea of not worrying about their vehicle while they were out…

        I don’t want to drive anymore because of all the road rage and traffic… I liked the speed of getting to the scenery I love…

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      longgone November 18, 2015 at 11:40 pm

      Is that true?

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        jeff November 19, 2015 at 3:14 pm

        Yes.

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  • Adam Herstein
    Adam Herstein November 18, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    I’m glad the county is finally taking this seriously, but they shouldn’t have waited for him to be arrested 98 times. At this point, he’d probably cost the county less money in jail than repeatedly having to arrest and push him through the judicial system every time.

    I normally wouldn’t advocate for jail time for bike thieves but Mr. Parsons is an exceptional case and it would benefit the city as a whole if he was removed from society for a while.

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    Captain Karma November 18, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    Don’t want to sound like a redneck, but… This guy needs a work farm internship. To make restitution to the citizens for all the administrative costs to date. Then to the citizens whose actual property it can be proven he stole. Finally, to make restitution for the cost of his lengthy incarceration. If he wants to go to rehab and get some job training, great. But behind bars. These were not victimless crimes… People may have lost jobs or at minimum their lives were made complicated when their transportation was stolen. The ripple effect.

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      JRB November 18, 2015 at 2:24 pm

      If any previous convictions were for non-violent offenses, than I agree, although all inmates in Oregon prisons are required to work at something to offset in part the cost of their incarceration unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary (no work can be found where they wouldn’t pose a danger to others). Heard a great story on OPB about a lifer whose job is training service dogs. The guy had already done 20 years and knows that he is never getting out, but is making the best of the bad situation he put himself in by giving back in a manner that also makes his imprisonment more tolerable.

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      Spiffy November 18, 2015 at 3:19 pm

      my ex mother-in-law always said they should make inmates sit on an electricity generating bicycle for a set amount of hours per day…

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        Pete November 18, 2015 at 3:53 pm

        …on SW Barbur at rush hour.

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    Mike Sanders November 18, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Pretty renarkable that it takes a sting organized by “Inside Edition” to get a guy who’s been arrested 98 times with no jail time for any of those 98 previous occasions!

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    Dave November 18, 2015 at 4:53 pm

    Where’s the R&D into rehab for meth addicts? I understand that there’s less effective treatment for that than for other drug addictions.

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      Tom Hardy November 19, 2015 at 3:04 pm

      Neutering would be one way to stop a lot of addictions.

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    Buzz November 19, 2015 at 10:57 am

    So ODOT put all those big boulders down there under the I-5 to prevent homeless camps from becoming established, but in the end all those big boulders just helped to conceal the camp and this chop shop, which has been in operation for a long time (it’s where Jonathan recovered his stolen bike several months ago).

    Once again – thanks, ODOT, you’re doing a great job!!!

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    Edward November 20, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    “But that’s a big if.”

    No. That’s a tiny “if”.

    A guy who is an “A” on the grid blocks looking at 16 charges, some of which carry Repeat Property Offender sentences is probably looking at a functional life sentence if he were to lose on all 16 charges.

    Kevin Demer is one of the best attorneys at that office. Most likely he will negotiate an offer which gets a conviction with a substantial prison term, yet saves the state the cost of incarcerating this guy for the rest of his life.

    Nobody with any sense would bet against Demer on a case like this.

    The real Big Questions is: How many years of prison is this guy going to get?

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