Hamilton County To Appoint Special Prosecutor To Investigate 'Gang Of Five'

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A special prosecutor is being appointed to prosecute five Cincinnati council members for violating Ohio's Open Meetings Act.

The action comes upon the recommendation of Ohio Auditor Keith Faber who reviewed the actions of the five council members: Tamaya Dennard, Greg Landsman, Chris Seelbach, P.G. Sittenfeld and Wendell Young, a source in the prosecutor's office says.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joseph T. Deters is expected to name Patrick J. Hanley, a Cincinnati lawyer who specializes in white collar criminal defense, as the special prosecutor.

Hanley will present evidence to a grand jury to see if it will return indictments against the five council members.

The five admitted to violating the act earlier this year. The case stems from text messages exchanged between the group in 2018 in which they discussed and made decisions about city business. The city paid $101,000 to settle the case, including $90,000 for plaintiff attorneys fees and $11,000 for fines.

The city also spent $75,000 for two outside law firms to handle the case against the council members until the city solicitor's office resumed representing them.

Deters and Faber are Republicans and the council members are all Democrats.