‘Smart Parking Meter’ Man Wasn’t So Smart

     PORTLAND, Ore. (CN) – A “smart parking meter” distributor ruined the manufacturer’s reputation by bribing a city official to get contracts and lying about it, the manufacturer claims in a $10 million racketeering lawsuit.
     George R. Levey, a parking meter supplier from Florida, pleaded guilty this year to bribing (nonparty) Ellis McCoy, the manager of Portland’s parking operations, in exchange for city contracts from 2002 to 2011.
     Federal prosecutors charged Levey with honest services wire fraud, claiming he paid McCoy more than $56,000 in fake consulting fees to hide the bribes, among other illegal payments.
     Levey owned several companies, and prosecutors say he paid for McCoy’s travel, lodging, meals, and “adult entertainment.” McCoy was sentenced to two years in prison this year for taking the bribes.
     The Cale Group sued Levey and his company CPSW on Aug. 7 in Multnomah County Court. Cale Group is based in Sweden. Its U.S. and Canadian subsidiaries also are plaintiffs.
     Smart parking meters accept credit cards and charge variable prices, depending on the time of day. Some of them can inform drivers that the spots are open, to reduce driving around time.
     Levey’s company was exclusive U.S. distributor of Cale parking meters from August 2003 to January 2012. FBI and IRS agents searched McCoy’s and Levey’s offices in 2011 in the bribery investigation. Levey denied the allegations to Cale executives.
     But media reports after the raids “closely associated Levey and McCoy with the Cale Group in Sweden, and the articles quickly circulated among many of Cale’s customers,” the complaint states.
     “To make matters worse, because Levey’s company used the Cale name, news articles routinely conflated Levey’s independent company with Cale Group, which left the incorrect and damaging impression that Cale Group or its subsidiaries were implicated in the bribery allegations against Levey.”
     Several months after the raids, Cale says, Levey sold it all of his company’s assets and parking meter contracts, while continuing to claim innocence. Cale claims it suffered at least $3.5 million in damages to its business reputation from Levey’s bribery.
     It seeks treble damages of $10.5 million from Levey and CPSW, for fraud, racketeering, conspiracy, breach of contract and breach of faith.
     It is represented by Jon Monson with Cable Huston, in Portland.
     Levey’s guilty plea and prosecutors’ sentencing memorandum are attached as exhibits to the complaint.
     Parking meter contracts have made news around the country as cities auction off the service for cash payments to patch their budgets. Chicago was sued repeatedly after taking a onetime payment of $1 billion and turning over its parking meters to a private consortium for 75 years.

%d bloggers like this: