City worker pleads guilty in car towing kickback scheme

City worker pleads guilty in car towing kickback scheme »Play Video
Former Portland Bureau of Transportation employee Barbara Peterson weeps in court Friday, May 16, 2014 as she agrees to plead guilty to a scheme where she got kickbacks when she told a tow truck driver where to find abandoned cars.

PORTLAND, Ore. – A Portland city worker accused of tipping off a tow truck driver about abandoned cars pleaded guilty Friday and broke down in court.

Barbara Peterson wept repeatedly as she entered her guilty plea to a charge of official misconduct and three counts of unauthorized use of a vehicle. Peterson cried several times and shook her head as she agreed to plead guilty.

Peterson's sentencing was set over until September.

Prosecutors charged Peterson with taking kickbacks for steering a tow truck driver toward abandoned vehicles. She worked for the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Abandoned Auto Section. She resigned from her position Monday.

Prosecutors believe those vehicles were then turned over to scrap metal dealers.

Prosecutors say the tow truck driver involved is cooperating with police. No one else faces charges in this case yet.