COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has begun proceedings to suspend Cincinnati City Councilman Jeff Pastor amid felony bribery and other public corruption charges, the AG's office announced Monday afternoon.
“When an elected official puts personal gain ahead of public service, he or she cannot be trusted to act for the good of the public and must be removed from office, at the very least during the pendency of the charges,” Yost said in a news release. “Ohioans deserve government that is free of public corruption at every level.”
The WCPO 9 I-Team first reported Friday the possibility of a forced suspension after Pastor's attorney, Ben Dusing, said the councilman had not decided whether or not he would resign amid the charges.
Pastor was indicted Nov. 4 on 10 felony counts -- including bribery, extortion, wire fraud, money laundering and other crimes -- in the U.S. District Court of Ohio. Federal officers arrested Pastor on Nov. 10, and he was arraigned and released on his own recognizance the same day.
U.S. attorneys and federal investigators accused Pastor of accepting $55,000 in bribes for votes impacting two Downtown development deals. Two undercover agents posing as developers and at least two whistleblowers were used to build their case against Pastor.
Dusing intimated to the I-Team that the case might not be as cut-and-dry as investigators have said, hinting at evidence Pastor might possess to complicate the charges.
"What if I was shaking you down and you knew it?” Dusing said. “What if I was recording you, and you knew it, and you were recording me back?”
Yost filed his request to proceed with Pastor's forced suspension Monday in the Ohio Supreme Court.
Pastor is the second Cincinnati City Council member to face federal corruption charges this year. In February, federal agents arrested former Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard, also on bribery charges. She ultimately resigned her seat on Council before pleading guilty to those charges. She is awaiting sentencing from U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott.