PORTLAND The Oregon Department of Justice released a series of transcripts of interviews Thursday from its criminal investigation of former Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen.
After interviewing 20 of Cogen s colleagues, county commissioners, auditors, lawyers and friends in 25 sets of interviews, the DOJ found no evidence to support criminal charges against Cogen, who admitted to having an affair with fellow employee Sonia Manhas.
The DOJ only released its first interview with Manhas from July 31. In a later interview she divulged details about Cogen's drug use and details about their sexual encounters.
In the hundreds of pages of documents, the DOJ s thorough investigation not only sheds light on how investigators came to their conclusion, but also illustrates the more personal and human side to Manhas and Cogen s relationship.
In the interview, Manhas explains to investigators how she and Cogen s relationship started as a close kinship over things like books and music while she and her husband stayed married but decided they could see other people. She detailed how their relationship first started with lunch, then turned into weekend walks, and eventually, the close contact turned sexual.
Okay, um, I mean it s not quite as salacious as everybody would want to think. It s-it s you know it s -it s lunches, it was like lunches, um, and lunches in public places of having food (laughs), spending time together...it was deep intellectual emotional intimacy, I mean that s what it became....The sex piece was more sporadic than anyone would think.
Manhas talked openly about the most focused points of the criminal investigation including details of her and Cogen s trips to Atlanta, questions about her department s budget, whether county money was spent on personal things, and whether Cogen had influence in her promotion to Director of Policy and Planning for the county health department.
Even though she admitted her actions could be perceived as immoral, Manhas was adamant that her commitment to the county and time and resources in no way were inappropriately used.
I think it s a it s certainly a moral relativity question and that people have judgment about that. You know I felt like in my mind it was violation to his family, absolutely...
At one point, Manhas was even asked if Cogen used per diem money to buy her flowers. She said Cogen didn't spend any county money on her.
When investigators, however, asked about details concerning sex and her personal relationship with Cogen, Manhas was more reluctant to divulge intimate particulars. She called herself a workaholic and restated her relationship with Cogen was never a conflict of interest with her work.
Toward the end of her July 31 interview, Manhas still seems eager to protect Cogen and herself from media scrutiny. She even seems embarrassed when relinquishing her cell phone because she sent text messages to Cogen about their relationship even after he had stopped responding.