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Tamaya Dennard Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison

Former Cincinnati City Councilmember Tamaya Dennard walks into the federal courthouse to be sentenced Tuesday.

Tamaya Dennard and her attorney stood before Federal Judge Susan Dlott Tuesday asking for home incarceration, not the two to three years prosecutors wanted for the former Cincinnati City Council member accused of corruption. In the end, Dlott sentenced Dennard to 18 months in prison with three years probation.

The jail term is being delayed and Dennard will not serve it before March, 2021 when COVID has diminished, the judge says.

When Dennard wasarrested in February, she was the first and only Cincinnati City Council member to face bribery charges this year. That has changed. Jeff Pastor was arrested earlier this month and is now suspended. P.G. Sittenfeld was picked up by federal agents Nov. 21. The U.S. Attorney's Office says the three cases are not connected.

Dennard pleaded guilty to honest services wire fraud in July. She has resigned her council seat.

Prosecutors say Dennard approached riverfront developers to shake them down, offering to take cash for her vote. According to the plea agreement, Dennard obtained approximately $15,000 in connection with the commission of the offense charged in Count 1 of the Indictment and agrees to pay back the money.

In a sentencing memo obtained by WVXU news partner WCPO, Dennard's attorney Stephanie Kessler said "She has been publicly humiliated. Not all defendants see their photo and their worst choices splashed over the media. It is difficult to deal with. She has lost friends and supporters."

U.S. Attorney Dave DeVillers says, "Dennard chose to enrich herself at the expense of the public, in doing so she violated the public's trust in her and also undermined our democratic values and institutions. She also earned herself time in federal prison."

What's Next For Pastor And Sittenfeld?

Ohio's Attorney General had moved to suspend Pastor, as WVXU reported, but the councilman voluntarily agreed to step aside. Reportedly, Republican Hamilton County Judge Ted Winkler will name Pastor's replacement. Attorney General Dave Yost is also initiating suspension proceedings against Sittenfeld. Both Pastor and Sittenfeld say they are not guilty.

Pastor is accused of taking $55,000 in bribes over the course of about a year in exchange for "official action" related to projects in the city, according to federal officials. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Dave DeVillers says "This indictment is indicative of a culture of corruption, a culture of extortion and a culture of pay-to-play."

Sittenfeld has also been indicted on bribery charges. DeVillers says the councilman allegedly solicited bribes from a developer and accepted checks he put into a secret PAC he controlled.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.