The FBI arrested four city council members in Toledo, Ohio Tuesday for allegedly accepting cash payments in exchange for official acts.
City council members Tyrone Riley, Yvonne Harper, Larry Sykes and Gary Johnson were accused of engaging in what was described as a years-long scandal involving some of the city’s highest elected officials, the Toledo Blade reported.
Criminal complaints filed in federal court Tuesday alleged that the four council members accepted multiple bribes and committed acts of extortion. The court records also alleged that Councilwoman Harper used a local attorney, Keith Mitchell, to solicit and funnel her cash payments.
FBI special agent Eric Smith said in a news conference Tuesday that the four council members had been placed into federal custody and the FBI was “actively seeking the whereabouts of Keith Mitchell.” (RELATED: GOP Lawmakers Donating Money Tainted By Alleged Bribery Scandal)
The FBI began their investigation into the council members as early as 2018, according to an affidavit. An FBI source also allegedly informed the federal agency that the council members had accepted thousands of dollars in exchange for approving a business matter that was up for a vote in the city council, ABC 13 reported.
The agency’s source also stated that Councilman Riley took a $300 bribe from a gas station owner on Dorr Street. Riley then voted in favor of building a curb cut on the street, which would increase traffic flow at the nearby intersection, according to the Toledo Blade.
Lucas County Republican Party chair Mark Wagoner, in a statement released Tuesday on Facebook, called for the resignation of the four council members and for special elections to be held. Wagoner also demanded that Harper, who is the executive director of the Lucas County Democratic Party, be removed from her position.
Toledo mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said he was “shocked and heartbroken” to hear the news in a tweet Tuesday. “I encourage all Toledoans to say a prayer for our city and for the hope that justice will be done in this case,” he added.
I encourage all Toledoans to say a prayer for our city and for the hope that justice will be done in this case.
— Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz (@wadekaps) June 30, 2020
The council members, if convicted, could face prison sentences for both bribery and extortion. The maximum prison sentence for bribery is 10 years and 20 years for extortion, according to the Toledo Blade.