Former city official who took bribes could be used in broader investigation

Former city official who took bribes could be used in broader investigation »Play Video
Ellis McCoy

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Despite admitting nearly a year ago he took bribes, Portland's former parking manager is still free from prison. Ellis McCoy was supposed to learn his fate last November, but his sentencing has been postponed indefinitely by court order.

The KATU “On Your Side Investigators” have now learned the delay is likely because McCoy agreed to be a witness against others in the bribery investigation.

A recent court document shows the U.S. Attorney in Portland convinced a judge to keep the status of McCoy's sentencing under seal, "on the grounds that this matter involves an ongoing investigation that would be jeopardized by disclosure at this time."

Portland lawyer Bruce McCain - who's not involved in the case - said it is a strong indication McCoy is rolling over on other suspects.

"The company that was involved in this had contracts throughout the United States. There's no allegations that they've done this elsewhere," said McCain. "McCoy is likely going to be used to flip his testimony in exchange for a lighter sentence if he cooperates with the United States prosecutor."

Contacted outside his new home in Hillsboro, McCoy did not answer our questions about his current role in any investigations.
 
"It's really rude of you to be following me, I've got nothing to say to you and you know that," said McCoy. "I've got nothing to say to you, so please get away."

According to documents filed in U.S. District Court, McCoy is accused of taking bribes from two unnamed executives of parking meter companies, including Cale Parking Systems.

Cale's Florida headquarters was raided the same day the FBI raided McCoy's downtown office and Hillsboro apartment in August 2011. A year later, McCoy said "yes, it's true" in federal court when asked about taking the bribes, which prosecutors said totaled $164,000 over a span of nine years beginning in 2002 and ending in 2011.

McCoy faces a maximum of 18 years in prison, but court documents say federal prosecutors will ask the judge to go easy on him. "The government agrees to request a term of imprisonment at the low end of the applicable guideline range," prosecutors wrote.

After McCoy's fall from grace, then Portland Mayor Sam Adams ordered an internal investigation into how McCoy was able to steer the $20 million contract towards Cale and a review of city procurement policies.

City Attorney James Van Dyke released a report in October of last year saying the review "uncovered no obvious defects or improprieties with respect to the procurement of the parking pay stations or the subsequent Cale contract and amendments."

The city attorney concluded that "the City got a good deal on the pay stations."

The city has made some policy changes, including removing some purchasing power from city bureaus and increasing centralization of procurement processes in the city's Office of Management & Finance, Procurement Services Division.

The next court hearing for McCoy is scheduled for Halloween. Court records show the judge wants an update on the status of the case.

KATU's calls to the U.S. Attorney's Office for comment on this story were not returned.

"How deep this investigation goes, nobody knows. Could it lead back to deeper corruption in the city of Portland? That's possible," said McCain. "But all indications seem to be they're going after the private sector executives of the company that allegedly bribed McCoy."