Five indicted in Toledo City Council federal bribery and extortion case

The four council members face a total of 13 counts between them, including conspiracy and extortion.
Published: Jul. 21, 2020 at 6:30 AM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Four Toledo City Council members and a local attorney, have officially been indicted on 13 charges by a federal grand jury. According to court documents filed on July 21, council members Yvonne Harper, Garry Johnson, Larry Sykes, and Tyrone Riley, along with attorney Keith Mitchell now face federal conspiracy charges in addition to extortion.

The charge alleges that the four council members and Mitchell “did knowingly, and intentionally combine, conspire, confederate and agree with each other to obstruct, delay, and affect commerce and the movement of articles and commodities in commerce by extortion ...”

This conspiracy charge is the first of a 13 count document which also includes a series of extortion charges being sought against each member individually. Among them are five extortion charges against Tyrone Riley, two each against Gary Johnson and Larry Sykes, and two extortion charges and one additional conspiracy charge against Yvonne Harper and Keith Mitchell together.

Harper, Johnson, Sykes and Mitchell were set to appear in front of a federal judge via video conference at 2:30 Tuesday afternoon for a probable cause hearing, however, those hearings were vacated by the court. Tyrone Riley had previously waived his right to the hearing.

Riley, Johnson, and Sykes have all been attending council meetings and voting on legislation during the criminal proceedings, while Harper has stayed away.

“These were campaign contributions,” says Rick Kerger, Johnson’s lawyer, who maintains that his client is innocent. “And the mix of facts that go into whether or not it a bribe or whether it’s a campaign contribution, I mean realistically, money is the milk of politics, and it is. ... There is the need to fund a campaign.”

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