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August 7th, 2013 AARON MESH | News Stories
 

Justice League

Cogen faces a state criminal investigation. He’s not happy. But should he be worried?

news1_3938(cogen)COGEN - IMAGE: WW Staff
This month, Multnomah County Chairman Jeff Cogen will answer questions in a criminal investigation aimed at finding out if he abused his public office while having an affair with a county employee.

Recent public corruption cases investigated by the Oregon Department of Justice, which is handling the Cogen case, show the difficulty in prosecuting public officials. The DOJ told lawmakers this year they  conducted 48 public corruption cases since July 2011, but only cited one case that resulted in a conviction.

DOJ spokesman Jeff Manning tells WW statistics are not readily available for how often his agency has brought criminal charges against public officials. (His boss, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, is married to WW publisher Richard Meeker.)

“The Oregon DOJ conducts all of its criminal investigations vigorously and fairly,” Manning says. “We’ll do the same in the Cogen case.”

Here’s a blotter of recent headline-making cases. 


Mitch Morrow

Scandal! The DOJ investigated the Department of Corrections deputy director this year for allegedly cutting $5 million in deals with prison industries operators.

Findings Morrow got his son a pay raise and a cushy job.

Charges Filed? None. 

How It Got Weird The prisons official who blew the whistle on Morrow was fired.


Jerry Wyatt

Scandal! The Dallas city manager in 2012 booked $1,648 in plane tickets to Chicago for a leadership-training event. Turns out there was no event—Wyatt and his wife were visiting their son at college.

Findings Wyatt made 36 purchases with city funds, totaling more than $14,000.

Charges Filed? Wyatt pleaded guilty to five charges in January, including one for felony theft. He’s serving a two-year prison sentence.

How It Got Weird According to the Polk County Itemizer-Observer, Wyatt admitted using city money to buy his wife a pink cellphone case.


Mark Long

Scandal! In 2010, Oregon Department of Energy director Mark Long allegedly steered a $60,000 contract to a firm co-owned by Cylvia Hayes, companion of Gov. John Kitzhaber.

Findings Documents suggested Long helped get the contract for Hayes, who didn’t know it was happening.

Charges Filed? None. 

How It Got Weird Litigation continues between the DOJ and Long’s lawyers. Cost to taxpayers so far: more than $1 million.


Dean Gushwa

Scandal! A girlfriend accused the Umatilla County district attorney—in the rodeo town of Pendleton—of rape in 2009.

Findings Then-AG John Kroger told The Oregonian that the DOJ found “an extreme form of sexual harassment as well as intoxication in the workplace.”

Charges Filed? Seven counts of official misconduct and 11 for contempt of court. Gushwa was convicted only of accepting an unauthorized $6 government discount on a La Grande hotel room.

How It Got Weird The DOJ took over the Umatilla County DA’s office and (as The Oregonian reported) botched the job so badly a confessed murderer walked free on appeal.


Patti Galle

Scandal! The Oregonian reported in 2010 that Galle, then the West Linn mayor, bought an online college degree from a diploma mill, then backdated it in her Voters’ Pamphlet statement.

Findings What The O said. Galle resigned.

Charges Filed? She pleaded guilty to making a false statement on an official election document, a felony.

How It Got Weird Galle put in 120 community-service hours with Oregon Dachshund Rescue.


John Minnis

Scandal! The state Department of Public Safety Standards and Training director resigned in 2009 when Kroger investigated him for sexual harassment and possible sexual assault of a female employee.

Findings The woman said Minnis plied her with vodka in a San Diego hotel room, and she later woke up without clothes on.

Charges Filed? None.

How It Got Weird Minnis wanted the woman to use state-owned walkie-talkies so they could communicate without being detected by his wife, former state House Speaker Karen Minnis.


Sam Adams

Scandal! Adams, the Portland mayor, admitted in 2009 to WW that he lied about a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old legislative intern.

Findings Kroger’s squad came up short proving Adams and the intern, Beau Breedlove, had sex before the young man turned 18.

Charges Filed? None.

How It Got Weird Breedlove told Adams’ lawyers the two men rented Kinsey—a drama about the sex researcher—on their first weekend together.

 
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