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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Ohio

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Five indicted in Toledo City Council bribery and extortion scheme

U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman announced today that a federal grand jury sitting in Cleveland, Ohio, has returned a 13-count indictment charging four sitting Toledo City Council members and one local attorney for their participation in a bribery and extortion scheme that encouraged soliciting and accepting cash, checks, money orders, or other things of value from local business owners in exchange for their votes on City Council.

“Today’s indictment is the next step in the process of ensuring accountability and maintaining the public’s trust in its elected officials in the city of Toledo,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman. “Let this indictment serve as a reminder to all who seek to exploit their elected positions for personal enrichment – the public deserves better and we, the Department of Justice, will work day in and day out to ensure that the public’s interests are protected.”

"Elected officials are elected by the people, to serve the people, not to serve their own financial self-interest,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric B. Smith.  “The FBI will continue efforts to root out public corruption so citizens can have faith and trust in their public officials.”

Tyrone Riley, age 64, of Toledo, was indicted on one count of Hobbs Act conspiracy and five counts of Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right.

Yvonne Harper, age 71, of Toledo, was indicted on one count of Hobbs Act conspiracy, two counts of Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right and one count of conspiracy to commit extortion.

Garrick “Gary” Johnson, age 66, of Toledo, was indicted on one count of Hobbs Act conspiracy and two counts of Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right.

Larry Sykes, age 71, of Toledo, was indicted on one count of Hobbs Act conspiracy and two counts of Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right.

Keith Mitchell, age 69, of Toledo, was indicted on one count of Hobbs Act conspiracy and two counts of Hobbs Act extortion under color of official right.

According to the criminal complaint, in early 2018, the FBI began to investigate four Toledo City Council members and one attorney for soliciting monetary payments or other things of value from local business owners in exchange for their votes on City Council. In addition, Councilwoman Harper was investigated for an extortion attempt on a local business.

Read more on this case here: “Five charged in Toledo City Council bribery and extortion scheme”.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case was investigated by the Cleveland Division of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Freeman. 

Topic(s): 
Public Corruption
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Daniel Ball (216) 622-3921 Daniel.Ball@usdoj.gov
Updated July 21, 2020