CINCINNATI — Former Cincinnati City Council member Tamaya Dennard has reported to a federal prison in West Virginia to begin her 18 month sentence for public corruption.
Dennard admitted in court to accepting a total of $15,000 from a person doing business with the city in exchange for her votes at City Hall. She has been ordered to repay the $15,000 bribe.
In a Facebook post made hours before reporting to prison, Dennard worried about her former constituents.
"The thing I hate the most is that I left the most vulnerable and marginalized people in Cincinnati without anyone willing to go to the mat for them on Cincinnati City Council. But always remember that energy is neither created or destroyed; it’s transferred. I still have things to do," Dennard said.
Her sentence was pushed back initially due to the pandemic. Dennard’s attorney originally requested Dennard be allowed to serve her sentence at home, in part because of COVID-19 fears.
FBI agents arrested Dennard last year on Feb. 25 near a Downtown Starbucks before a council committee meeting. Her arrest was the first of three public corruption cases to rock City Hall in 2020: Council members Jeff Pastor and P.G. Sittenfeld both were arrested in November, accused of accepting bribes.
Dennard told the judge it was never her intention to use her seat for power or personal gain and that she let her personal struggles get the best of her.
"I owe the city, and what I did eats at me. It will always eat at me,” Dennard said. "I took an oath to serve the people of Cincinnati ... but I put my personal needs before their interests."
The felony conviction bans Dennard from ever serving as an elected leader in Ohio again.