NEWPORT — The first of seven Clark County men accused of screaming racist insults at an African American family on a Lincoln City beach and challenging police to fight appeared in Lincoln County Circuit Court Monday, July 13.
The arraignment of Oleg Alexander Saranchuk, 45, before Judge Thomas Branford came nine days after the July 4 incident on the beach at Inn at Spanish Head Resort, where two Lincoln City Police Dept. officers responding to a complaint were surrounded at 9:33 p.m. by a “confrontational and highly intoxicated” group of men who had reportedly been shooting off illegal fireworks and harassing beachgoers.
As the officers withdrew to await reinforcement, the men allegedly turned their attention to a nearby black family by blasting racist music, hurling epithets and making “Nazi signs,” reported LCPD Chief Jerry Palmer. At least 29 officers responded to the scene, forming a barrier to escort the family to safety.
At Monday’s probable cause hearing Branford cited the wholesale list of felony and misdemeanor charges facing Saranchuk, including Open Riot, Unlawful Sale, Possession, or Use of Fireworks, two counts of Interfering with a Peace or Parole and Probation Officer, Tampering with Physical Evidence, and five counts of Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree. The judge allowed Saranchuk to remain free on bail but ordered him to return to court Aug. 24, where he is expected to enter a plea.
According to a report by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Saranchuk is a previously convicted felon. Originally from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Saranchuk was a lawful permanent resident alien until he was ordered removed by an immigration judge June 17, 2010, following a series of criminal convictions dating back to 2002. Since 2010, ICE has been unable to acquire travel documents for Saranchuk.
Federal authorities claim Saranchuk left Kazakhstan and arrived in the U. S. in 1990. His criminal history, dating back almost two decades, includes:
On Nov. 12, 2002, Saranchuk was arrested by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Department for possession of a stolen vehicle and carrying a concealed firearm. On Sep. 19, 2003, he was convicted of all charges and sentenced to probation.
On Feb. 22, 2004, Saranchuk was arrested by the Ontario Police Department on local charges. On Aug. 6, 2004, he was convicted of forgery in the first degree and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail and 36 months probation.
On May 20, 2004, Saranchuk was arrested by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office for violating probation, he was convicted of those charges on Dec. 15, 2004 and sentenced to continued probation.
On April 6, 2004, Saranchuk was arrested by the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office for violating probation, he was convicted of those charges on May 2, 2005 and sentenced to continued probation.
On June 1, 2005, Saranchuk was arrested by the Portland Police Bureau. On July 26, 2005, he was convicted of two counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and sentenced to probation.
On Feb. 27, 2006, Saranchuk was arrested by the Portland Police Bureau and on May 19, 2006, he was convicted of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and sentenced to 12 months in jail.
On Oct. 26, 2006, Saranchuk was arrested by the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office. On Oct. 31, 2006 he was convicted of violating probation and sentenced to continued probation.
On March 15, 2010, Saranchuk was arrested on local charges by the Portland Police Bureau. On March 16, 2010, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE), Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) officers lodged an immigration detainer for Saranchuk with the Multnomah County Jail.
On May 12, 2010, Saranchuk was convicted of two counts of burglary in the first degree and sentenced to 50 days and 36 months in jail for both counts. On May 13, 2010, Saranchuk was transferred to ICE custody.
On June 17, 2010, Saranchuk was ordered removed to Russia by an immigration judge.
On Sept. 27, 2010, due to detention limits and the inability to acquire his travel documents, ICE ERO placed Saranchuk into the Alternative to Detention (ATD) program. Saranchuk has been reporting, pursuant to an order of supervision, to the ICE ERO office in Portland Oregon.
On July 4, Saranchuk was arrested by the Lincoln City Police Department for riot, harassment, disorderly conduct, and other local charges. The case is pending.
After Monday’s hearing, defense attorney Alexander Hamalian wondered if his client could get a fair trial amid widespread racial-justice protests after the slaying of George Floyd.
“From my office in Portland I have seen the chaos and the polarization that exists,” Hamalian commented. “With the public sentiment being the way it is, I’m not sure how the fairness issue pans out.”
Lincoln County Assistant District Attorney Kenneth R. Park intends to try all seven defendants at once. Hamalian said he intends to challenge “inconsistencies” in early reports about the July 4 incident.
“Now that my client has been arraigned I want to see the police reports and transcribe the grand jury recording,” he said. “From there we can figure out what really happened and hopefully be able to prove my client’s innocence.”
At Monday’s hearing, face masks were required and courtroom space was limited by COVID-19 distancing. As of Monday morning, no dates had been set for the other defendants to appear.