Democratic Ohio lawmaker resigns after FBI bribery sting

Democratic state Rep. W. Carlton Weddington resigned from the Ohio legislature after prosecutors indicted him for bribery and other charges. He surrendered to the FBI Tuesday afternoon.

The FBI alleges that during a sting operation, Weddington received campaign contributions and all-expense paid trips from undercover agents in exchange for introducing legislation on behalf of a phony business.

Weddington faces one count of bribery, one count of election falsification, and one count of filing a false financial disclosure form. If convicted on all counts, he could serve 4-1/2 years in prison.

The fictional company organized by Special Agent Edward Hanko sent the two-term Democrat on $16,000 all-inclusive vacations to Napa Valley, Calif. and Miami. The FBI also donated an undisclosed amount of money to his re-election campaign on behalf of the nonexistent company.

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien told the Columbus Dispatch that Weddington “is cooperating with authorities, meaning he could provide information that leads to additional indictments.”

Hanko said the investigation began after Weddington reportedly made a similar deal.

In 2010, the Dispatch reported that Weddington allegedly told an official with the Center for Responsible Lending that he wanted a $2,500 contribution to the Legislative Black Caucus before agreing to discuss payday lending reforms.

In a statement released Tuesday, Ohio House Democratic Leader Armond Budish said, “These are very serious and very shocking allegations. Any severe breach of the public trust, as this may be, deserves the most thorough and serious treatment by law enforcement.”

By Tuesday evening, the legislature’s Web page representing Weddington’s 27th District seat reported that his elected position was vacant.

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