The Oregon Department of Justice Says Roy Jay Violated Settlement Agreement, Owes Millions in Restitution

When the state accused Jay of looting non-profits in 2017, he said he was broke. Now, DOJ says he diverted and hid nearly $700,000 in assets.

Roy Jay (Roy Jay Enterprises)

Anybody who watched the Blazers' playoff run on television might have noticed Roy Jay, longtime president of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Oregon, sitting in pricey seats right behind the national TV announcers.

That was surprising, because in a July 2017 settlement with the Oregon Department of Justice, Jay swore he'd turned over all his assets to atone for allegedly misusing millions of public dollars paid to multiple nonprofits he ran, including Project Clean Slate, which promised to clear the criminal histories of black youth, and the Independent Development Enterprise Alliance, which served seniors and people with disabilities.

Jay's insurance company paid $600,000 to settle DOJ's allegations that he used nonprofit money for exotic travel, mortgage payments, tailor-made clothing and expenses related to his vacation homes in Sunriver and Mexico.

But on May 30, the DOJ filed a complaint in Multnomah County Circuit Court alleging that Jay (full name Roy Jay Harris), violated the July 2017 agreement to pay.

"[Jay] violated the settlement agreement by failing to identify substantial charitable assets belonging to IDEA, by failing to transfer those charitable assets to another charity, and by Harris continuing to act as a charitable fiduciary on behalf of IDEA without the Department's permission," the complaint says. (Disclosure: the complaint was submitted on behalf of Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, who is married to Richard Meeker, the co-owner of WW's parent company.)

At issue is a payment stream related to Jay's role in a company that managed the city of Portland's SmartPark garages.

In 2013, the new complaint alleges, Jay struck an agreement that paid IDEA $10,000 a month as its share of an entity called Portland Parking Associates (PPA).

In the course of DOJ's investigation of Jay, 71, the agency required him to identify all of the assets attributable to the various non-profits he ran. The agency now says Jay hid the PPA payments from DOJ and put them in his own pocket—a practice he allegedly continued even after the 2017 settlement.

That agreement produced $711,000 for IDEA between 2013 and 2018, most it flowing directly into Jay's personal bank account.

"Defendants [Jay] and IDEA took numerous steps to conceal the PPA arrangement from the Department during the course of the investigation," the complaint says. "The vast majority of the PPA payments to IDEA did not appear, even in disguised form, in the documents these Defendants produced because those payments were diverted to either [Jay's] personal bank accounts, or to bank accounts associated with for-profit entities owned or controlled by [Jay]."

DOJ says it did not learn about the PPA payments until eight months after settling with Jay.

"Even after entering into a settlement agreement with the department in July 2017, [Jay] continued to conceal and misappropriate charitable assets in violation of the settlement agreement," the complaint says.

DOJ began investigating Jay in 2014, after questions arose about Project Clean Slate (PCS) which helped ex-convicts re-enter society and helped others navigate the court system. The Portland Tribune covered the investigation extensively.

"At the same time [Jay] transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars of IDEA and/or PCS funds into his bank accounts, he caused the entities to steadily raise the fees they charged the PCS Program's often-impoverished clients," DOJ found. "In order to justify the millions of dollars in grants the PCS Program received from government agencies and the hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees that the PCS Program charged to individual clients, Defendant Harris made numerous misrepresentations to PCS Program funders."

Jay allegedly grossly overstated the number of clients his organizations served as a way to justify the use of public funds, which instead allegedly went to a variety of personal uses, including exotic travel; mortgage payments; expenses from his vacation homes in Sun River and Mexico and $17,500 worth of Blazer tickets, among many other expenditures.

"Since at least 2008, [Jay] caused the Corporate Defendants to engage in numerous transactions, totaling more than $2,100,000, that did not benefit the organizations' tax- exempt purposes, and instead misused charitable assets to benefit [Jay and his late companion, Juanita Walton] personally or subsidize their for-profit businesses," the complaint says.

DOJ says that by allegedly hiding the parking revenues and continuing to operate in the non-profit realm with out the agency's permission, Jay has now voided the 2017 settlement agreement. As a consequence, the agency says in his complaint he  is once again liable for repayment of misspent funds to the nonprofits—a liability the agency says exceeds $2 million.

Jay did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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