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Why did FBI try to donate $15K to former Mayor Cranley's campaign and where did it go?

The Potter Stewart Federal Court Building is seen Tuesday, June 21, 2022 in Cincinnati.
Jason Whitman
The Potter Stewart Federal Court Building is seen Tuesday, June 21, 2022 in Cincinnati.

Former Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld may be the one on trial for public corruption, but the most dramatic testimony in U.S. District Court on Friday came from an FBI agent who talked about the behavior of his political cohorts.

FBI case agent Nathan Holbrook revealed under cross-examination that Sittenfeld’s fundraising strategist, Jared Kamrass, confessed to pocketing $15,000 in cash that FBI agents gave him to deliver to a different campaign: then-Mayor John Cranley.

Kamrass is on the witness list for the prosecution and is expected to testify next week. He is a well-known political consultant who helped many local candidates raise money, including Cranley who unsuccessfully ran in the Democratic primary for governor in May.

It is uncertain why undercover FBI agents donated to Cranley’s campaign through Kamrass.

Holbrook also revealed that the FBI’s key cooperating witness, Chinedum Ndukwe, admitted to evading campaign finance limits and other alleged crimes before signing a proffer agreement to cooperate in the government’s corruption probe at City Hall.

Ndukwe, a former Cincinnati Bengal turned real estate developer, secretly recorded phone calls with Sittenfeld and introduced him to undercover FBI agents who were posing as developers.

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Paula Christian is an investigative reporter at WCPO Channel 9 and has been since 2015. She's also worked at the Cincinnati Business Courier, Tampa Tribune, Winston-Salem Journal, Greensboro News & Record as a staff writer, and numerous other publications throughout Ohio as a freelance journalist. A graduate of Syracuse University in New York, she is most proud of her work that holds government officials accountable, such as watching where taxpayer dollars are spent and bringing the public inside important court proceedings.
WCPO-TV is a news partner of Cincinnati Public Radio.