Man sentenced for role in Toledo City Council bribery scheme

Published: May. 11, 2023 at 2:40 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 20, 2023 at 6:25 PM EST
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UPDATE: Judge Jeffrey Helmick sentenced Shaheen to two years of probation on Nov. 20, 2023. The original story follows below.

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Months after a series of convictions of former Toledo City Council members in a federal corruption case, a fifth person has been charged in connection to the scheme.

This time, it’s not an elected official. Court records show Nabil Shaheen pleaded guilty to a federal extortion charge in connection to the bribery scheme in which prosecutors say former Toledo City Council members took bribes in exchange for votes. Shaheen is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday afternoon.

Court documents say around May of 2018, Shaheen allegedly aided and abetted former councilman Tyrone Riley to “obtain property not due to Riley or his office, namely cash and meals, knowing these things of value were provided in exchange for Riley’s official influence, support, and votes as a member of Toledo City Council.”

Shaheen was charged via “an information”, which means he is facing formal charges but was not indicted through traditional means by a Grand Jury.

Former councilmembers Tyrone Riley, Yvonne Harper and Larry Sykes were convicted in the scheme in December of 2022. Gary Johnson did not take a plea deal in the case and is scheduled to go to trial next month. The other three former councilmembers are scheduled to be sentenced next month.

Court records show the FBI began investigating the former council members in regard to the bribes-for-votes scheme in 2018 that unfolded over the following two years. The four were accused of accepting payments ranging from $500 to $5,000 in exchange for their votes on zoning requests to internet cafes and special use permits, or SUPs, for local businesses.

“Court documents show that during this time, Riley accepted more than $5,000 in payments and meals in return for his support on five occasions related to zoning changes and SUPs for businesses,” a statement from the DOJ from December 2022 read. “Additionally, on two occasions, Harper accepted more than $5,000 in return for her support of zoning changes and SUPs for businesses. Sykes accepted, on two occasions, approximately $1,500 for his support of SUPs.”

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