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Press Release

Ohio Lobbyist Sentenced to 15 Months for Extortionate Role in Conduit Campaign Contribution Scheme

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

An Ohio lobbyist was sentenced today to 15 months for engaging in extortion in connection with a bribery and fraud scheme involving conduit contributions to the campaigns of elected officials.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Benjamin C. Glassman of the Southern District of Ohio and Special Agent in Charge Angela L. Byers of the FBI’s Cincinnati Division made the announcement.

John P. Raphael, 61, of Columbus, Ohio, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson of the Southern District of Ohio.  Raphael pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging him with a violation of the Hobbs Act on Oct. 15, 2015. 

According to the plea agreement, Raphael was a consultant and lobbyist based in Columbus.  From March 2005 to February 2013, a red light camera enforcement company engaged Raphael to seek and obtain lucrative contracts with the cities of Columbus and Cincinnati, he admitted.  During that time, according to admissions made in his plea, Raphael conveyed to the company specific solicitations for campaign contributions on behalf of elected officials in Columbus and Cincinnati, and repeatedly pressured and induced the company to make contributions by advising the company that it would lose its contracts if it did not.

Raphael admitted that as a result of his actions, the company made over $70,000 in campaign contributions, which were funneled through Raphael in his own name and in the names of his family members, friends and business associates. 

Karen L. Finley, the former CEO of the red light camera vendor, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery and honest services wire and mail fraud. 

The FBI Cincinnati Division’s Columbus Resident Agency investigated the case with the assistance of IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.  Trial Attorney Edward P. Sullivan of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Michael Marous of the Southern District of Ohio are prosecuting the case.

Updated November 6, 2019

Public Corruption
Press Release Number: 16-661