Cincinnati city council member arrested, charged with accepting $40k in bribes
CINCINNATI – FBI agents arrested a Cincinnati city council member this morning after a federal grand jury charged him in a sealed indictment yesterday.
Alexander (also known as P.G.) Sittenfeld, 36, of Cincinnati, allegedly accepted eight checks totaling $40,000 in exchange for specific action in his role as a city official.
According to the six-count indictment, Sittenfeld accepted bribe money in 2018 and 2019, while promising to “deliver the votes” and perform other official action with respect to a development project before city council.
It is alleged that Sittenfeld corruptly solicited and received payments to a PAC he controlled.
Specifically, in November and December 2018, Sittenfeld promised he could “deliver the votes” in city council to support a development project in exchange for four $5,000 contributions to his PAC. It is alleged that Sittenfeld again corruptly accepted four $5,000 checks in September and October 2019.
For example, the indictment details that in November 2018, Sittenfeld indicated to undercover agents posing as investors that he would shepherd votes for the development project. He allegedly presented voting data showing that he is politically popular throughout Cincinnati and said he is likely to be the next mayor. Sittenfeld said, “I can move more votes than any other single person…,” according to the indictment. He allegedly reiterated in December 2018, “don’t let these be my famous last words, but I can always get a vote to my left or a vote to my right.”
Over the next several months, it is alleged Sittenfeld told the investors he was continuing to apply pressure, and promised to apply additional pressure, to public officials relating to their agreement involving the development project.
Sittenfeld is charged with two counts each of honest services wire fraud (up to 20 years in prison), bribery (up to 10 years) and attempted extortion by a government official (up to 20 years).
His initial appearance is scheduled for 1:30pm today.
David M. DeVillers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Chris Hoffman, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, announced the charges. Deputy Criminal Chief Emily N. Glatfelter and Assistant United States Attorney Matthew C. Singer are representing the United States in this case.
An indictment merely contains allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.
# # #