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Another Oregon Prison Food Manager Accused of Misconduct

As previously reported in PLN, former Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) Food Services Administrator Farhad “Fred” Monem accepted over $1.2 million in bribes from several food vendors and then fled to his homeland of Iran, leaving his wife and the vendors to face criminal prosecution. [See: PLN, Oct. 2011, p.38; Sept. 2010, p.24; July 2009, p.20; Aug. 2008, p.1].

Now, the Food Services Manager at the Two Rivers Correctional Institution (TRCI) in Umatilla, Oregon has resigned and may face criminal charges in an unrelated incident.

In 2007, the ODOC hired Mike W. Mathisen, 44, to work in the food services department at the Oregon State Penitentiary. The next year he transferred to TRCI, where he earned $59,000 a year as the facility’s Food Services Manager. While employed in that capacity, Mathisen also owned catering and food packing businesses, and established two local farmers markets.

In 2010, Mathisen was endorsed by state Republicans in a failed bid to unseat state Representative Bob Jenson. He raised $31,500 for his campaign, including $2,500 from the Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance, which is headed by former Oregon legislator Kevin Mannix, the chief sponsor of numerous mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

Ironically, while running for office and accepting money from the Anti-Crime Alliance, it appears that Mathisen was stealing from the ODOC. He was placed on administrative leave in May 2011 until he resigned in late November at the conclusion of an internal investigation. The ODOC refused to provide details regarding Mathisen’s alleged misconduct, but insiders said he stole food purchased to feed TRCI’s 1,580 prisoners and then re-sold it through his personal businesses.

Mathisen told reporters he did not misuse any state money or assets, and had provided documents the ODOC wanted for its investigation. However, he declined to elaborate on the allegations.

“After five months of waiting for the investigation to be completed, I decided to resign and pursue other things,” Mathisen said.

The ODOC notified the Oregon State Police (OSP) of its internal investigation in late May 2011. The OSP, in turn, sent the ODOC’s findings to Umatilla County District Attorney Dan Primus.

ODOC officials are awaiting Primus’ decision as to whether additional investigation is needed, reported OSP Lt. Gregg Hastings. In January 2012, the ODOC gave the OSP a second batch of reports related to Mathisen and his supervisor, Assistant Superintendent Bob Martinez. Primus confirmed he was considering criminal charges but refused to discuss the case.

Martinez, who is not expected to face charges, was placed on paid leave in November 2011 upon the conclusion of the Mathisen investigation. He was allowed to return to work in January 2012 after being demoted to a counselor position.

Source: The Oregonian

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