FBI agents arrested Cincinnati City Councilor PG Sitenfeld on federal charges Thursday morning, accusing him of receiving bribes in exchange for favorable votes in development deals, a source familiar with the arrest told The Enquirer.
Sitenfeld, a Democrat and alleged favorite in next year’s mayoral election, was arrested around 9:30 a.m.
Elected to the council in 2011, Sitenfeld amassed a $ 710,000 election chest on his way to becoming one of the city’s most powerful politicians. He is the brother of writer Curtis Sittenfeld, author of “Prep” and “Rodham”.
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The federal charges mean that one year by the Cincinnati City Council – three meeting members of the city’s supreme legislature – were arrested this year on corruption charges related to urban development projects.
It is not clear what deal or deals are behind Sitenfeld’s arrest. David Devilers, the American lawyer for the southern part of Ohio, is expected to share more at a press conference at 11 o’clock.
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Sitenfeld’s ambition to be mayor was an open secret for months before finally making an official announcement in July, surrounded by some of the Democrats in Cincinnati.
His arrest on Thursday immediately disrupted the mayor’s race, calling into question Sitenfeld’s viability as a candidate and potentially opening the door for others to enter. At least three other candidates have applied: councilor David Mann, activist Kelly Prater and retired firefighter Raffel Profet.
Following Pastor’s arrest, DeVillers hinted that more arrests were imminent. Although Denard and Pastor were accused of soliciting or accepting money, DeVillers noted last week that accepting campaign donations in exchange for services also violates federal law.
Denard’s case is not related to Pastor’s case, and it is not known whether the allegations against Sitenfeld are tied to the same developers or projects that made it difficult for his board members.
Last week, DeVillers said investigations reveal a “culture of corruption” that is tolerated in the city government. He said the investigation that led to the accusations against Pastor and Denard was ongoing and part of a broader campaign to eradicate public corruption in Cincinnati and other communities in Ohio.
“We are concerned about this near acceptance that this is being done,” DeVillers said last week. “We will prosecute these cases. Our goal is to make people nervous and stop them from doing so. “
At the time, DeVillers said the investigation was not over and charges could be filed against more people. “We have a way to go,” he said. “We still have some persecution ahead of us.”
Later in the week, in a podcast on The Enquirer’s That So Cincinnati, DeVillers said he was stunned by the impudence of some politicians.
“It’s almost like this thought, ‘I’m right now. I am now an elected official. ” Now, in some way, you have the right to receive these donations or arrange your pockets, “DeVillers said.” Not all of them feel that way, but it’s probably the biggest surprise I’ve seen as a lawyer in the United States. “
Sitenfeld was elected in 2011, part of a wave of new young politicians and he grew in popularity, garnering the most votes in the 2013 and 2017 elections. He ran for the US Senate in 2016, losing the championship in the Democratic Party by former Gov. Ted Strickland. He is limited at this time and in the third year of his last four-year term.
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