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Friday, November 8, 2013

UPDATED: No Charges for Jeff Cogen (Whoops! Leaks in Cogen Investigation Prompt Earlier Release of Findings)

Posted by Denis C. Theriault on Fri, Nov 8, 2013 at 3:33 PM

Update 3:50 PM: No charges for Jeff Cogen. It's a 106-page report. We'll be filling out a new post after we've digested.


DOJ special agents conducted the investigation under the direction of prosecutors in the department’s Criminal Justice Division. DOJ interviewed numerous witnesses, including Manhas, and carefully reviewed records pertaining to the travel and other activities of Cogen and Manhas. Although DOJ repeatedly sought to interview Cogen, he refused to be interviewed without advance information that DOJ was unwilling to provide.

DOJ found no basis to bring criminal charges based on the presented concerns that Cogen may have abused the power of his office. The investigation focused on Manhas’s promotion, the budgeting of Manhas’s county department, and overlapping travel by Cogen and Manhas.

DOJ found Manhas’s promotion complied with county policies, and she was qualified for her position. No evidence was found indicating that Cogen improperly exerted his influence to secure the promotion. Although Cogen did recommend favorable budgets for Manhas’s department, DOJ found those recommendations were extensively discussed before being approved by the Multnomah County Commission, and were consistent with Cogen’s longstanding policy priorities.

DOJ further found Cogen and Manhas traveled together or stayed together on various work-related trips. But DOJ uncovered no evidence that county funds were improperly expended on those trips. Manhas, in her personal capacity, joined Cogen at a conference in Atlanta, using vacation time and paying for her own travel. Although Cogen selected a county-paid hotel that cost more per night than rooms in the conference hotel, relevant county policies give elected officials discretion to select their accommodations for official travel.

As recently reported, based on unauthorized disclosures from unknown sources, Manhas alleged during the course of the investigation that Cogen was a recreational user of marijuana and also used cocaine and ecstasy. DOJ concluded there was insufficient evidence to support drug-related charges.

Stay tuned for news in the Jeff Cogen investigation this afternoon.

A front-page report in the Oregonian this morning, quoting two anonymous sources leaking out interviews from his ex-lover, Sonia Manhas, has pushed the state Department of Justice to clear the air and release its findings in the case sooner than it had hoped. The probe is looking into whether Cogen misspent county money on his trysts with Manhas—an issue first raised publicly by the Mercury.

The O this morning ran hard with potentially unsubstantiated claims from Manhas that Cogen is a daily pot smoker and cocaine-dabbler who had a third affair he hadn't admitted to yet.

Drug allegations were first reported, nonspecifically, by Willamette Week. Reached by a Mercury reporter Wednesday, Cogen wouldn't comment on the suggestion drugs were involved in the case and said he hadn't yet spoken with investigators.

The DOJ clearly isn't happy that word about its interviews got out into the ether—and it's apologized for the timing: Friday afternoon. The old saw is you release bad news on a Friday night so everyone forgets about it over the weekend.

Here's the DOJ release from Michael Kron:

Later this afternoon we will be issuing a press release and posting a copy of our summary investigative report in the matter referenced above. I am very sorry about the timing on a Friday afternoon. In light of unauthorized disclosures from unknown sources that have been reported in the news recently, we felt it was important to announce our decision and provide the findings of our investigation. Our press release and report should be ready in the near future. Since I will be helping to finalize the release, I would appreciate it if you could hold off on calls about this matter until after our release. Again, I apologize for the timing of this.

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