Scuffle ends with arrest of former legislator - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Scuffle ends with arrest of former legislator

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Posted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 12:12 pm

Former state Sen. Mike Jorgenson was arrested Tuesday afternoon at his restaurant, The Copa, in Hayden, for investigation of misdemeanor battery.

An incident report from the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department said Jorgenson, 64, allegedly grabbed an employee by the jacket and threw him to the ground over a money dispute.

Jorgenson declined to comment Wednesday afternoon, referring questions to his attorney, Robert Romero, in Coeur d’Alene.

Jorgenson was released from the Kootenai County jail at 7:25 p.m. last night, after being booked and processed, a sheriff’s department official said. His bond was $300.

The alleged victim, identified as Benjamin Chavez III, 41, told deputies he found out his wages had been cut when picking up his paycheck Tuesday.

“Basically, what he did was lower my wages without telling me,” Chavez said in an interview with The Press Wednesday. “He’s been so horrible about paying people,” including vendors, Chavez said.

He said his hourly wage had been $10, but on his check this week some hours were paid at approximately $4 and $7 per hour.

Chavez told deputies “that he attempted to talk with Jorgenson about the money dispute, but Jorgenson became enraged, rushed him saying, ‘get out,’ then grabbed him and threw him to the ground,” the incident report said. The incident occurred just before 5 p.m.

“He was trying to beat me up,” Chavez said.

He said Jorgenson was yelling at him: “You’re done, you’re over.”

Chavez complained to deputies of a sore head from striking the floor, but refused medical attention.

He said Jorgenson had him on the ground and was “shaking my head so it was hitting the bar that holds up a table.”

He said he has a bump on his head.

A bartender told deputies he had to pull Jorgenson off of Chavez.

Two other employees described Jorgenson as the aggressor in the scuffle.

“Both indicated Jorgenson has quite the temper, especially if he has been drinking alcohol,” according to the report.

The report noted that Jorgenson’s eyes “were extremely bloodshot.” Jorgenson reported only having a “small amount” of wine from a vendor who had been in the business earlier that day.

Jorgenson told deputies Chavez fell down when Jorgenson grabbed his jacket and told him to get out of the restaurant.

Jorgenson refused to let deputies review surveillance video captured of the incident.

“No, you’ll have to get a court order to see that,” he allegedly told deputies, according to the report.

A third witness said Jorgenson threw Chavez to the ground, but that witness “was fearful to speak with us due to Jorgenson possibly retaliating against her,” the report said.

Chavez’s wife was present and reported that Jorgenson was the aggressor and threw Chavez to the ground.

Jorgenson told deputies he had recently informed his staff that he was cutting everyone’s wages.

“Jorgenson said he would be reducing all of their pay to minimum wage, as he is nearly bankrupt,” the report said.

Jorgenson said when Chavez picked up his check he was yelling and using profanities. Chavez said in the interview he confronted Jorgenson in private, then Jorgenson followed him out into the restaurant.

“Jorgenson then added that Chavez has reported him to the (Idaho) Department of Labor for two previous disputes, so it’s been making Jorgenson upset with Chavez as he feels Chavez is just causing trouble,” the incident report said.



  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • traveler83 posted at 4:58 pm on Mon, Apr 1, 2013.

    traveler83 Posts: 1

    pretty sure the security tape will show that Mike was hit FIRST and the other guy tried to make it seem like it was his fault to get money out of him. It's not the owner's fault they make more money. The food industry/wait staff is not known to make much $ Anywhere. If the guy didn't like his job he should've left. I'm sure the guy was just instigating and probably skimming stuff from the restaurant anyway. It's all in the security tape...

  • Sean posted at 3:05 pm on Thu, Feb 7, 2013.

    Sean Posts: 3

    Well said! Don't forget the Million dollar home they live in. Talk about out of touch. Ben has been with him since day one of the Copa opening. Ben has supported him, believed in the restaurant and forgave him each time a check bounce,and continued to work for him. This is how you get treated for loyality?????? Hang in there Ben...Karma will get them.

  • Karmatude posted at 2:19 pm on Thu, Feb 7, 2013.

    Karmatude Posts: 2

    Maybe it's time for Mike from Boise and Cindy from St. Paul MN to file Bk and retire to Florida to reinvent themselves again. Surprised they lasted this long, NOT.

    The people you step on on the way up will trip you on the way down. You can't pay your minimum wage staff but can drive around in a $100k Mercedes. You'd think your wife could sell at least one of her 10+ fur coats to make payroll. But I guess you are so out of touch that you don't realize the money your employees EARNED they actually need for food, fuel and basic shelter.

    Karma's a b...h!

  • Sean posted at 11:52 am on Thu, Feb 7, 2013.

    Sean Posts: 3

    with all the witness's present, it was pretty clear what happen Mike wasn't helping him up. He also admitted to drinking prior to the incident. There are witness to that as well. Mike has not paid his employees on time for months and numerous checks have bounced.

  • merica9265 posted at 10:52 am on Thu, Feb 7, 2013.

    merica9265 Posts: 2

    Republican men make this state great! They follow in the great footsteps of Ronald Regan, G.W., and Carl Rove by helping out the down & out less fortunate people of north Idaho. Mr. Jorgenson Created so many jobs at the copa (over twenty from an article I read during his campaign). Plus if you look on his election site it clearly states "Mike Jorgenson is a devoted father and grandfather and he believes a stable family is the backbone of a strong society. He is committed to preserving family values and guarding against legislation that might disrupt the family network."
    I think that we just need to cut this guy a break I'm sure every one is just making this a bigger deal then it is. I bet that he saw Mr. Chavez trip on his way out the door and tried extend a friendly had of help and then tripped him self. With strong values like his there is no way he could have a drinking problem or a temper. Just give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.

  • Not4sale posted at 9:51 am on Thu, Feb 7, 2013.

    Not4sale Posts: 166

    I have enjoyed several nice meals at the Copa. We have been in a tough economy for some time and I can see how the stress can get to everyone, waiters and owners alike. Boy there are a lot of folks on this forum living in "glass houses" throwing a lot of stones, probably calling themselves good Christians. Never had a moment of frustration, leading to anger in your lives? Or is it the shameless plugs for their establishments? For the employees and their friends airing the dirty laundry--no one is forcing you to work anywhere, if you don't like it quit and stop complaining. Seems like they were being overpaid to start with and should have been working for minimum wage plus tips. You had it quite good actually, and having any job in N. Idaho during this slowdown is fortunate. I for one, will still eat at the Copa. It is as good or better than any of the options.

  • 86edatCopa posted at 8:40 am on Thu, Feb 7, 2013.

    86edatCopa Posts: 1

    Can't wait to meet the new owner of the Copa. I didn't think it would take this long for Mike to implode. Good things come to those who wait. Since the steaks aren't edible, maybe the employees can use them on their black eyes.

  • Insider posted at 7:36 am on Thu, Feb 7, 2013.

    Insider Posts: 360

    Oh man, I have to get that groupon out my wife bought. Before it's too late. LOL, oh Mike.

  • BorneNIdaho posted at 9:22 pm on Wed, Feb 6, 2013.

    BorneNIdaho Posts: 142

    Like I have said before, this county and the major cities government are completely corrupt!

    This guy gets out on 300 dollars for battery, and someone who gets arrested for crossing the street while intoxicated is the same amount, tell me how that makes sense?

  • truthful1 posted at 8:33 pm on Wed, Feb 6, 2013.

    truthful1 Posts: 554

    How typically North Idaho. Mississippi of the north....

  • merica9265 posted at 5:41 pm on Wed, Feb 6, 2013.

    merica9265 Posts: 2

    Sounds like just another typical day at the Copa. I went in there a few times over last year because my roommate worked there. He had two of his checks bounce while he worked there. I had the privilege of the former senator sitting next to me at the bar one night have several drinks with his wife. Then they hopped into his Navigator and drove away. He seemed like such a nice guy though.

  • Screen Name posted at 5:33 pm on Wed, Feb 6, 2013.

    Screen Name Posts: 905

    Good Republican values on display. Good riddance.

  • bionic man posted at 5:33 pm on Wed, Feb 6, 2013.

    bionic man Posts: 347

    what do you all expect.....government corruption runs rampant....cda is rampant, idaho state follows the city's examples........skrew the working class, raise the taxes, get more pay for doing nothing by the city, county, state employees

  • Lillylove posted at 4:17 pm on Wed, Feb 6, 2013.

    Lillylove Posts: 1

    For about a year now the employees are often paid with checks that bounce and have to wait several weeks for the owner to deposit money to cover their paychecks.

  • voxpop posted at 3:25 pm on Wed, Feb 6, 2013.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    Exactly. If this chump was nearly bankrupt he's totally down the tubes now. It would be nice to think this former legislator's behavior is a corner case but it seems apparent that it's wide spread. What a banana republic Idaho's govt is - with some question as to the 'republic' part.

  • skunkworks posted at 2:22 pm on Wed, Feb 6, 2013.

    skunkworks Posts: 252

    It's Bye Bye "Restaurant"...Hello Court !!!! For Mr Jorgenson..Maybe he is Bankrupt because of his Drinking/Temper...You Think???...

  • IChoseNID posted at 1:42 pm on Wed, Feb 6, 2013.

    IChoseNID Posts: 83

    I think I'd pass if I were you...

  • 3GenNative posted at 1:17 pm on Wed, Feb 6, 2013.

    3GenNative Posts: 187

    Now this is the Idaho I know.......Politicians, Right to Work and all!

  • flattopramen posted at 1:14 pm on Wed, Feb 6, 2013.

    flattopramen Posts: 140

    Despite the good steak, I always assumed the poor service and low staff morale was due to bad management, didn't know it was this bad...

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