by J.D. Davidson
For the second time this month and the third time this year, a Cincinnati city council member faces federal corruption charges.
On Thursday morning, FBI agents arrested Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld on a sealed federal indictment, claiming he accepted $40,000 in exchange for specific action in his role as a city officer, according to U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers.
Sittenfeld, a Democrat, was the presumptive front-runner in next year’s election for mayor, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
According to a press release from DeVillers, the six-count indictment claims Sittenfeld accepted bribe money in 2018 and 2019 while promising to “deliver the votes” on a development project before the council.
The indictment says that in November 2018 Sittenfeld indicated to undercover agents posing as investors he would shepherd votes for the project. It also says he presented information that showed how popular he is throughout Cincinnati and said he is likely to be the next mayor.
He’s charged with two counts each of honest services wire fraud, bribery and attempted extortion by a government official. Combined, he could face up to 50 years in prison.
His first court appearance was scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
On Nov. 4, a federal grand jury indicted Councilman Jeffrey Pastor on 10 felony counts of bribery, extortion, wire fraud and money laundering following an investigation that included cooperation of two real estate developers and an undercover law enforcement officer, according to Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.
Earlier this week, Yost filed a request to force Pastor’s suspension.
“In a shocking lack of integrity, Pastor violated the public trust by offering his council vote and his potential influence over matters appearing before the city council in exchange for his own personal gain,” Yost wrote in the request.
In February, Tamaya Dennard resigned from the council after being arrested on fraud and bribery charges. She pleaded guilty to a charge of honest services wire fraud, according to The Enquirer, and is expected to be sentenced next week.
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An Ohio native, J.D. Davidson is a veteran journalist with more than 30 years of experience in newspapers in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama and Texas. He has served as a reporter, editor, managing editor and publisher. Davidson is a regional editor for The Center Square.
Photo “PG Sittenfield” by PG Sittenfield. Background Photo “Cincinnati City Hall” by Greg Hume. CC BY-SA 3.0.