Earlier today federal arrest warrants were served to Toledo, Ohio, city council members Larry Sykes, Tyrone Riley, Yvonne Harper, and Gary Johnson. The FBI is actively looking for a fifth person – attorney Keith Mitchell, as the FBI and US Attorney Justin Herdman culminate a two-year investigation into the city council for bribery, extortion and abuse of their public office for financial benefit. [Local Press Report] FBI News Conference:
[DOJ Press Release] – Four sitting Toledo City Council members and one local attorney were charged in a criminal complaint today for their participation in a bribery and extortion scheme that encouraged soliciting and/or accepting cash, checks, money orders, or other things of value from local business owners in exchange for their votes on City Council.
Charged today were Tyrone Riley (District 1), Yvonne Harper (District 4), Garrick “Gary” Johnson (At-Large), Larry Sykes (At-Large) and Keith Mitchell all of Toledo. All defendants were charged via a federal criminal complaint filed in the Northern District of Ohio with Receipt of Bribe by Agent of Organization Receiving Federal Funds and Hobbs Act Extortion Under Color of Official Right. Additionally, defendant Harper was charged with Interstate Communications with Intent to Extort.
“As alleged in the Complaint, four Toledo City Council members and a local attorney have been engaged in a pay-to-play scheme involving bribes for Council votes,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. “Maintaining the public’s trust in its elected officials is one of the Department of Justice’s core responsibilities. The residents of Toledo should know, as should every other resident of the Northern District of Ohio, that where there are allegations of public corruption and kickbacks, we and our federal partners will be there every time.”
[…] According to the criminal complaint, in early 2018, the FBI began to investigate Toledo City Council members for soliciting monetary payments or other things of value from local business owners in exchange for their votes on City Council. In addition, Councilwoman Harper was investigated for an extortion attempt on a local business.
The following is a summary of the events listed in the complaint:(Read Allegations)
The court documents detail each of the council members allegedly accepting thousands of dollars in payments from an FBI source in exchange for support with a business matter that was up for council approval over the course of 2019 and into early 2020.