CINCINNATI, Ohio (AP) — A former Cincinnati city councilwoman accused of accepting $15,000 as part of a scheme to trade votes for money has pleaded guilty to a federal fraud charge.
Tamaya Dennard, a Democrat, entered the plea in federal court to a count of honest services wire fraud, meaning defrauding citizens and the council of their right to honest services. No sentencing date was set immediately.
Authorities alleged in court documents that in August 2019, Dennard contacted someone she knew who had business before the council and sought money, texting: “I’m sure that I will be able to help you.” They alleged that she received $10,000 on September 9, 2019, and $5,000 in cash about two weeks later.
David M. DeVillers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio said in a statement that Dennard “sought to deprive the citizens of Cincinnati of their rights to honest services by an elected official in order to enrich herself through corruption.”
“It is completely unacceptable for an elected official to solicit money in exchange for official actions,” Cincinnati Special Agent in Charge Chris Hoffman added. “Today’s plea should serve as a reminder that the FBI considers public corruption to be a top priority and we will continue to vigorously investigate fraud and abuse in order to hold public officials accountable.”
According to the Department of Justice, honest services wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The court will determine an appropriate sentence based on several factors including federal sentencing guidelines and her acceptance of responsibility.
– – –
The Ohio Star Staff contributed to this report.