Former Summit County councilwoman sentenced to five years in prison for taking bribes
A former Summit County councilwoman was sentenced to five years in prison for taking bribes in exchange for trying to influence court proceedings and investigations, said Acting U.S. Attorney David A. Sierleja and FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony.
Tamela Lee, 58, of Akron, was convicted by a jury earlier this year on all six counts: conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud, honest services mail fraud, Hobbs Act conspiracy, violating the Hobbs Act, obstruction of justice and making false statements to law enforcement.
“This is a public official who used her office to collect cash, cigarettes, home repairs and other things that average citizens have to pay for,” Sierleja said. “She violated the public’s trust and is now being held accountable for her actions.”
"Tamela Lee, a community councilwoman elected by the citizens she was supposed to lawfully represent, was motivated by her own self- interests and greed,” Anthony said. “The FBI is pleased Ms. Lee is being held accountable for these criminal actions. The FBI will continue to root out public corruption, whether it is elected officials that violate their oath and the law or citizens that bribe them to do so.”
Lee solicited and accepted things from Omar Abdelqader, including money, loans, campaign contributions, home improvements, home maintenance and consumer goods. These were provided directly by Omar Abdelqader, or through Bi-Rite and totaled more than $6,500, according to court documents and testimony.
In return, Lee performed and promised to perform official acts for Omar Abdelqader and other businesses in Akron for which he served as a conduit to Lee. These actions included helping Omar Abdelqader and his designees navigate government bureaucracy, achieve favorable outcomes in judicial and administrative proceedings and obtain streamlined access to information, according to court documents and testimony.
Omar Abdelqader was affiliated with several convenience stores and other businesses in the Akron area, including the Bi-Rite on Diagnonal Road. Abdelrahman Abdelqader is his brother and Samir Abdelqader is his nephew, according to court documents.
On June 8, 2014, Omar and Samir Abdelqader discussed Samir obtaining a bond regarding criminal charges he was facing. About 40 minutes later, Omar and Lee discussed the councilwoman emailing or calling the judge. On June 12, Lee called Judge 2’s chambers several times. The next day Lee asked Omar for money, and he directed her to the Bi-Rite to collect the money, according to court documents and testimony.
On June 14, 2014, Lee sent a text message to Omar informing him that the judge and bailiff returned her call. She then sent a text message to Omar stating: “I am going to bed, I am angry and frustrated and broke…bye,” according to according to court documents and testimony.
Later that day, Omar instructed Lee to send her daughter to the Bi-Rite to pick up cash. Three days later, Lee spoke to Judge 2 and told the judge she was related to Samir Abdelqader, according to court documents and testimony.
In July 2014, Lee and Omar spoke repeatedly about fundraising for her campaign. Omar told Person 9 that he had collected $800 in donations for Lee. Omar explained the Lee provided service. “In other words, I am keeping her because we need her, man,” Omar told Person 9, who responded: “She is better than an attorney to us!” according to court documents and testimony.
Omar Abdelqader, of North Canton, Abdelrahman Abdelqader, of Canton, and Samir Abdelqader, of Fairlawn, have pleaded guilty to crimes related to this case.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Linda Barr and Elliot Morrison following an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Akron Police Department.