Oregon Athletic Commission chief survives probe

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The executive director of the Oregon State Athletic Commission has returned to work after spending 16 months on paid leave during an investigation into why he had $22,000 in cash and checks lying around in his office.

Investigators found no evidence Brad Darcy was embezzling money from the division of the State Police that regulates boxing and mixed martial arts. They also determined that Darcy was not taking bribes from fighters and promoters.

Instead, Darcy was judged to be a shoddy bookkeeper in need of more structure and oversight. State police Capt. Jeff Lanz said the agency "looked at the totality of what occurred" and decided to keep Darcy in the job he has had since 2004.

"I want to make it clear there was no theft of monies or anything like that," Lanz said. "If that would have been the case, we would not have brought him back to work."

Darcy, who filed for protection under bankruptcy laws in April, returned to work Monday. He did not return phone messages to his home and office.

The athletic commission is supported by taxes from ticket sales and money from licensing fees. Checks from those sources that had never been deposited were discovered when the Oregon State Gaming Commission was moving to a new headquarters in March 2012.

A state Department of Justice report obtained this week through a public records request said a state police detective and Lili Wright, a compliance manager with the gaming division, were moving boxes that belonged to Darcy when they found $50 in cash and more than $6,600 in checks.

When Wright told Darcy about the discovery, the report says, he responded with surprise: "Oh, really?"

Two months later, Wright and Lt. Craig Heuberger returned to Darcy's office to see if more money was lying around. They found cash and checks in a file cabinet and in piles of paperwork on the floor.

On June 6, 2012, Darcy was placed on paid administrative leave from his job that pays about $65,000 a year.

Investigators seized his cellphone, day planners stretching back eight years and a hard drive containing a copied image of Darcy's police-issued laptop as well as three years of email. They also reviewed his bank records.

According to the Justice Department report, Darcy told Special Agent Kimberly Hyde that some checks were buried and forgotten about because he had too many tasks, not enough time and no support staff. A part-time employee helped in the summer of 2011, but the Justice Department report said she became romantically involved with Darcy and the human resource office said she had to quit. She wasn't replaced.

In other cases, Darcy said, checks were not deposited because they came from promoters and fighters who started but never completed a licensing application.

Hyde asked Darcy about a $3,000 check from the promoter of a mixed martial arts event in Seaside in 2011.

Darcy explained it was a pre-paid tax on ticket sales, but was not cashed because sales fell short of expectations and the promoter ended up owing only $150.

Darcy added that he never collected the lesser amount because the promoter committed suicide shortly after the event. Darcy said he did not see the need to "chase down" $150 from the family.

The State Police conducted a separate "internal investigation" but have not released the findings as requested by The Associated Press.

Officials said in an interview this week that steps have been taken to make sure checks are handled in a more appropriate manner, including better auditing, additional support staff and an immediate supervisor to whom Darcy will report.

"Mr. Darcy is coming back to the job, but the job is going to be different today than it was back then because of things that we found during the investigation that we need to shore up," Lanz said.

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