Cornelius officials refuse to release internal report, citing attorneys advice

The Oregon State Police (OSP) has stepped in to investigate allegations of corruption against former Cornelius Police Chief Paul Rubenstein.

Rubenstein retired on Feb. 14, three months after an October “whistleblower” letter, signed by four Cornelius police officers, went to members of the Cornelius City Council.

In the letter, the officers alleged that Rubenstein and Assistant Police Chief Joe Noffsinger had engaged in corrupt activities, including allegedly covering up misconduct by a Cornelius police officer.

Noffsinger has since been demoted to the rank of police lieutenant, and Rubenstein, who had served as the town’s police chief since 1999, was placed on paid administrative lead before his retirement last month.

Upon resigning as chief, Rubenstein was given $10,000 in severance pay, and Cornelius City Manager Rob Drake said Rubenstein had “agreed not to sue the city” in exchange for the severance.

In the formal separation agreement between Rubenstein and the city of Cornelius, the terms of the deal were set out in writing.

“In exchange for the city’s commitment (to provide severance payment of $10,000), employee waives the right to file any action regarding employee’s employment with, or separation from, the city,” read an excerpt of the Feb. 14 document, which had been signed by Drake and Rubenstein.

Last Friday, Drake said he did not know why the OSP initiated the investigation into the corruption allegations.

“The State Police did eventually call interim Cornelius Police Chief Ken Summers to let him know they would be working the case,” Drake said.

An OSP spokesman said he could not provide any details on the investigation, but he did verify the process was under way.

“We are only confirming OSP is conducting follow-up interviews involving some employees at the Cornelius Police Department,” explained Lt. Gregg Hastings, public information officer for the OSP. “Other than that, we are not providing any other info.”

Hastings said once the report by the OSP has been completed, it would be available to the public.

“I am sure after it is done, some of the info would be subject to a public records request,” Hastings said.

On March 11, Drake told the News-Times that the city will not release the results of the Cornelius Police Department’s internal investigation into the allegations of corruption. Drake claimed the investigation — which he said has now been completed — dealt with private personnel issues, and therefore the city was not obligated to release the findings.

The News-Times has filed a public records request with the city of Cornelius to gain access to the report.

Hastings added that he had no idea when the OSP investigation will be completed, and he declined to discuss “the nature of what we are looking into.”

Drake said he had few details about the investigation by the OSP. “We pledged our cooperation,” he said.

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