Former Talent city manager sentenced for secret recordings
A jury found Talent’s former city manager guilty of secretly recording the city’s mayor in three instances. The convictions, however, didn’t stop him from Shady Cove’s city council meeting after the verdict.
Thomas John Corrigan, 62, of Gold Hill, who was Talent’s city manager from 2012 to early 2018, and now Shady Cove’s city administrator, was sentenced to probation and community service in Jackson County Circuit Court Thursday evening after a jury found him guilty of three misdemeanor counts of obtaining contents of communications.
The recordings were found on Corrigan’s work computer after he was placed on leave in November 2017, according to Senior Assistant State Attorney General Amy Seely, who prosecuted the case.
The verdict concluded a two-day trial in which the Talent mayor and several current and former staff members testified about their voices heard in hours of seemingly mundane audio recordings that left the mayor and at least one former staff member deeply affected.
Peter Carini, Corrigan’s defense lawyer, attempted to argue that a small sign on the door of city hall warning the premises were monitored by video surveillance and a small sign in Corrigan’s office were sufficient notice; however, Seely argued that none of the recordings were captured in Corrigan’s office.
Prior to sentencing, Talent mayor Darby Ayers-Flood told Jackson County Circuit Judge Laura Cromwell that she lost sleep during the investigation and ahead of her testimony, and called the process “outright humiliating.”
“It’s an issue of barriers and someone crossing those barriers,” Ayers-Flood said.
Among the recordings played for the jury in the trial’s second day was a 17-second audio recording apparently captured in the break room while staff celebrated a birthday in September 2017. In the recording, Talent’s former city recorder Kimberlyn Collins was recorded singing the theme song to the ‘90s children’s show “Barney & Friends” while sharing with coworkers that the song irritates her children enough to get them out of bed in the morning.
Collins told the judge she spent a year in counseling because the recording of her singing embarrassed her so much.
“It’s changed me,” Collins said in tears. “It’s made me not trust people.”
Although the jury acquitted Corrigan on the charge tied to the recording of Collins, Cromwell touched on the incident prior to her sentencing.
“I’ve never known someone to record a birthday celebration with audio,” Cromwell said.
Cromwell highlighted testimony of forensics investigators, who testified that they found evidence that Corrigan emailed six of the audio files to himself shortly before he was placed on leave — including the recording of Collins singing.
In one of the recordings for which the jury found Corrigan guilty, Cromwell noted that Corrigan left his phone on the mayor’s desk while Corrigan apparently stepped out of Ayers-Flood’s office, calling it “eavesdropping at its best.”
Cromwell ordered Corrigan serve two years of bench probation, do 120 hours of community service, pay a $1,000 fine and have no contact with Ayers-Flood.
Outside the courthouse, Corrigan said he only intended to use the recordings to keep notes because he has a “bad memory.”
When asked for a response to the mayor and Collins’ comments prior to sentencing, Corrigan described his outlook as “contrite, however realistic.”
“I’m sorry if they were caused some heartache,” Corrigan said.
He defended using recordings as a way to keep track of the sometimes myriad tasks, and said he plans to bring up the issue of recordings with the League of Oregon Cities.
“You would be surprised how many cities do the exact same thing,” Corrigan said.