PORTLAND – A federal prosecutor has filed bribery charges in the wake of a West Coast corruption investigation that raised questions about a company chosen to supply new parking meters in Portland.

It’s not clear if the latest development will have any further impact on the city’s selection of Cale Parking Systems USA to provide $150,000 worth of high-tech parking meters. That contract was put on hold in August, although city officials said earlier this week they were close to signing the deal after being reassured by Cale’s parent company in Europe.

The U.S. attorney in Oregon filed a complaint Thursday accusing the former parking manager of Portland, Ore., with accepting about $124,000 in bribes, as well as unspecified gifts and travel, intended to influence the city’s smart parking meter program. The alleged payments took place between 2004 and July 2011, the complaint says.

The complaint doesn’t say who allegedly paid the bribes to Ellis McCoy, the former city parking manager. However, McCoy persuaded the city last year to increase Cale’s parking meter contract from about $4.4 million to $20 million, without competitive bids, according to the Portland Oregonian. And, on Aug. 10, federal investigators simultaneously raided McCoy’s office in Oregon and Cale’s office in Florida.

A committee of city staff in Portland, Maine, chose Cale in July over two competitors to provide 20 new multi-space smart meters as part of a two-year pilot program. Each kiosk serves about 10 parking spaces and allows motorists to pay with credit cards, debit cards, cash or change.

News of the joint raids and corruption investigation involving Cale had led city officials here to delay the project.

“We’re going to wait and see what happens in Portland, Ore.,” John Peverada, the city’s parking manager, said in August.

Early this week, Portland spokeswoman Nicole Clegg said Cale’s parent company in Europe had addressed a number of the city’s concerns. While there were still some undislosed concerns, Clegg said, she expected those to be worked out by the end of the month so that the city could execute the contract and install 20 meters in the spring.

Clegg was unavailable Friday and Peverada and City Manager Mark Rees could not be reached to respond to the latest news.

Mayor Nicholas Mavodones said late Friday he had not heard about the charges but that city officials are being careful.

“I think the city would wait until all of its questions could be answered. I don’t know what bearing (the new charges) would have,” he said.

The charges against McCoy appear to be the only action taken in the case.

“Neither Cale nor George Levey (its president and chief executive officer) have been charged with any crime,” said David Zornow, a New York attorney representing Levey. “Cale has always delivered a superior product and outstanding service to its customers at competitive prices. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

One of Cale’s competitors, Parkeon, had offered to provide Portland with similar meters at a lower price, but was passed over by local officials who said Cale offered superior equipment and support.

Dan Kupferman, Parkeon’s business development manager, said Friday he has stayed in contact with local officials about the contract but declined to comment further.

The city plans to spend $150,000 to purchase 20 of the high-tech parking kiosks, which would replace the individual coin-operated meters the city now uses.

Officials here have not yet decided where in the downtown area they will replace individual meters with the first kiosks. If the experiment is successful, most if not all of the city’s remaining 1,516 meters could be replaced by kiosks.

Portsmouth, N.H., first tried the Cale kiosk meters in 2007 and now has 52. It plans to buy more, an official there said, after determining the company’s service commitment would not change.

Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at:

[email protected]


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