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Feds charge 3rd Cincinnati councilman with corruption

An indictment Thursday shows that Democrat P.G. Sittenfeld faces six federal counts related to bribery and extortion.
Credit: AP Photo/Julie Carr Smyth
P.G. Sittenfeld and gun control advocates discuss the launch of a ballot effort that would restore control over guns to Ohio cities during a news conference in the Ohio Statehouse on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016 in Columbus, Ohio.

A Cincinnati city councilman who has been planning to run for mayor has been indicted on federal corruption charges.

An indictment Thursday shows that Democrat P.G. Sittenfeld faces six federal counts related to bribery and extortion. It states that Sittenfeld solicited $40,000 in payments to his political action committee to “deliver the votes” in the city council for a proposed downtown real estate development.

U.S. Attorney David DeVillers discussed the case at a news conference late Thursday morning. He said FBI agents had arrested Sittenfeld earlier.

Sittenfeld pleaded not guilty before a federal magistrate and was released without bond but with restrictions including on travel. He surrendered his passport.

“Mr. Sittenfeld was no longer working for the citizens of Cincinnati, but working for Project 1,” DeVillers said, referencing the proposed real estate project. FBI agents disguised as developers gave Sittenfeld the $40,000 bribe, which DeVillers said remained in the PAC fund.

Earlier this year, Democrat Tamaya Dennard resigned from city council after her arrest. She is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to a wire fraud-related charge. Republican Jeff Pastor was arrested Nov. 10 on bribery, extortion and money laundering charges. His attorney has said the councilman will fight the charges.

Sittenfeld, often active on Twitter, said on the social media after Pastor’s arrest that “This is a sad day for our city,” and spoke previously in a video about his mayoral hopes about the importance of principled action.

Cincinnati will have elections in 2021, including for mayor. Democratic Mayor John Cranley is term-limited.

Sittenfeld, who finished far behind former Gov. Ted Strickland in the 2016 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, had been considered a top contender to succeed Cranley. Strickland lost in the general election to Republican Sen. Rob Portman.