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Federal judge approves City Councilman Jeff Pastor's voluntary suspension pending corruption case

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Posted at 10:42 AM, Nov 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-25 14:29:32-05

CINCINNATI — A federal judge has approved a temporary suspension for City Councilman Jeff Pastor, pending the results of his trial on federal corruption charges.

U.S. District Court Judge Matthew McFarland signed a consent decree Wednesday morning prohibiting Pastor, one of two Republican members of City Council, from performing any official duties prescribed to his seat as his case proceeds through federal court.

Pastor will continue to collect paychecks from his $65,000 annual salary while under suspension.

McFarland's order means Hamilton County Probate Judge Ralph Winkler, also a Republican, will appoint a temporary replacement to fulfill Pastor's duties on Council until his trial has concluded. If convicted, or if Pastor resigns before the case concludes, Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman would either reaffirm Winkler's appointment or make a new appointment of his own to fill Pastor's seat.

Pastor's attorney, Ben Dusing, declined WCPO's request for comment Wednesday afternoon except to say: "We are happy that the issue of Mr. Pastor’s ongoing participation on City Council will not be a distraction."

Read the full consent decree here:

Nov. 25, 2020 consent decree, Jeff Pastor suspension from City Council. by WCPO Web Team on Scribd

One day prior to McFarland's order, Winkler held a pretrial hearing on a related citizen complaint filed against Pastor, calling for his permanent removal from office. A representative from the city attorney's office filed paperwork Wednesday afternoon asking the court for a continuance as solicitors determine if the city has any evidence that would warrant removal of office.

Deputy City Solicitor Emily Woerner said in court Tuesday and reiterated in an affidavit filed Wednesday that the solicitor's office "does not possess any evidence apart from the exhibits to the Complaint which would allow it to prosecute this removal action."

WCPO reporter Mariel Carbone contributed to this story.