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Oregon Parking Meter Bribery Case Reveals Bahamas Vacation

PORTLAND (AP) - Federal prosecutors have recommended a sentence of more than two years for a former Portland, Oregon, parking manager who pleaded guilty to taking bribes from a business owner seeking a contract to install high-tech parking meters.

Ellis McCoy is said to have taken 61 separate trips over nine years on the proceeds, to overseas destinations like The Bahamas, Paris, Milan and Antigua and many involving golf or gambling to Las Vegas or California.

Four years ago, federal agents raided the home and Portland city office of McCoy and filed bribery and tax evasion charges. They alleged he had taken money and travel favours in exchange for getting the city to install a Florida company’s smart meters, designed to slash the labour and maintenance costs involved in collecting parking fees.

McCoy pleaded guilty in 2012, but sentencing was delayed as prosecutors proceeded with the investigation of the meter company owner, George Levey, of Tarpon Springs, Florida. His offices were raided the same day as McCoy’s.

The government says Levey paid McCoy $56,000 in phoney consultant fees and promised $137,000 more, at $100 a meter, for recommending Levey’s products to other cities. That was to be payable after McCoy left city employment.

McCoy, 63, is to be sentenced next week. The US attorney’s office filed a sentencing recommendation on Wednesday that calls for a 30-month term and said that takes into account McCoy’s quick decision to plead guilty, saving the expense of trial preparations.

Prosecutors said McCoy hasn’t agreed to the sentence.

Levey, 58, was indicted and pleaded guilty last month. His sentencing is set for August. The terms of his plea deal suggest a sentence of less than three years. The government has said a second, unnamed executive was involved.

The prosecutors’ sentencing recommendation contains details of the bribery. At one point, it says, the scheme appeared to be in jeopardy when other city employees objected to the performance of the meters. Those the city tested weren’t working well in Portland’s winter drizzle.

But, the document says, McCoy was feeding Levey inside information to give him an advantage in the bidding process, which eventually resulted in a contract worth about $1.6m for the installation of 200 to 500 meters.

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