A former official with the Oregon Department of Energy has pleaded guilty to accepting nearly $300,000 kickbacks in connection with the sale of state energy tax credits, reports the Oregonian. Joe Colello, who previously managed tax credit sales for the department, was under investigation for expediting the sale of tax credits for a private energy consultant. He pleaded guilty Tuesday in Marion County Circuit Court to racketeering, receiving bribes, aggravated theft, tax evasion and official misconduct. “I’m dirty,” Colello told the Oregonian in an emotional interview Sunday. “I made mistakes.” He agreed to serve five years in prison and pay restitution of $1.3 million.
According to court documents, Colello accepted cashier’s checks on 52 separate occasions from a Seattle-based energy consultant, Martin Shain, who is already under indictment on forgery accusations. Shain was both a consultant on energy projects and a tax credit broker. Colello, meanwhile, had knowledge that was very valuable to brokers: The list of approved recipients looking to sell their tax credits as well as the buyers in the market for them. That relationship gave Shain an inside track to market his services, complete the sales and earn lucrative commissions. Shain gave Colello as many as three checks a month, ranging in value from $1,000 to $14,130, from August 2012 to March 2015.