Three of the four Democratic Toledo City Council members accused of taking part in a bribery and extortion scheme have agreed to temporary suspensions, according to the state attorney general’s office.
Tyrone Riley, Yvonne Harper and Larry Sykes will continue to get their annual $27,500 council salaries, and their temporary replacements will be paid the same salary on a prorated basis. If the council members plead guilty or are convicted of the charges, the city could recover any funds paid to them during their suspensions.
Gary Johnson, the fourth council member charged in the case, has not yet agreed to voluntarily suspend his position, officials said Wednesday.
The council members and a private attorney are accused of roles in the scheme, which federal prosecutors have said encouraged soliciting and/or accepting cash and other things of value from business owners in exchange for favorable votes on issues before the council.
All five have maintained their innocence.
Two years ago, the FBI began its investigation into the Toledo City Council for “soliciting/and or accepting cash, checks, money orders, or other things of value from local business owners in exchange for their vote on City Council, the affidavit says.
Each elected official who was arrested used cell-phones to arrange these alleged transactions, according to the affidavit.
To gather evidence, the FBI recorded phone conversations, conducted in-person meetings, collected text messages, and looked through government, business, and financial records.
At the time of the initial arrests, Democratic Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz issued this statement, according to WTOL.
“I am shocked and heartbroken by today’s arrests. This is a terrible day for Toledo — and for everyone who believes in the good that can be accomplished through public service.
“I was inspired to run for public office by a Catholic priest, Fr. Timothy O’Brien, who impressed upon me the benefits of a life dedicated to serving the public good. Because of his mentorship, I have no tolerance for public officials who abuse the trust of the citizens. One of the reasons Toledo has seen relatively little political corruption, historically, is because the public doesn’t tolerate it either.
These members of the Council are entitled to their day in court, and they should be “presumed innocent until proven otherwise. I encourage all Toledoans to say a prayer for our city and for the hope that justice will be done in this case.”
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Zachery Schmidt is the digital editor of Star News Digital Media. If you have any tips, email Zachery at [email protected] Follow Zachery on Twitter @zacheryschmidt2. The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Left to Right: Photo “Larry Skyes” by Larry Skyes. Photo “Tyrone Riley” by Tyrone Riley. Photo “Yvonne Harper” by Katie Moline. Photo “Gary Johnson” by Gary Johnson. Background Photo “Toledo City Council Meeting Room” by Toledo City Council.