CINCINNATI — Former Cincinnati City Council member Tamaya Dennard has asked a federal judge to release her from prison six months early due to a foot infection.
Dennard is serving an 18-month sentence after pleading guilty to honest services wire fraud for accepting $15,000 as part of a scheme to exchange her votes for money.
FBI agents arrested Dennard in February 2020near a Downtown Starbucks before a council committee meeting. Her arrest was the first of three public corruption cases to rock City Hall that year: Council members Jeff Pastor and P.G. Sittenfeld both were arrested in November, accused of accepting bribes.
Dennard reported to a minimum-security federal prison camp in West Virginia on June 1 and is set to be released in September.
In a motion for compassionate release filed on Thursday, Dennard asked U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott to reduce her sentence to time served. This would allow her to begin serving three years of probation while living at her mother’s home.
The Bureau of Prisons has transferred tens of thousands of eligible inmates to home confinement in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and released others. This comes under the emergency authority exercised by the U.S. Attorney General’s office through the CARES Act to stop the spread of COVID-19 in prisons.
Federal prisons officials released Evans Landscaping owner Doug Evans from Ashland Federal Correctional Institution and sent him back to Cincinnati for home confinement on Dec. 2 after he served six months of his 21-month sentence for minority contracting fraud.
In Dennard’s case, her apparent eligibility for CARES Act release is being blocked by a medical hold for an ongoing foot infection that worsened while she was in prison.
“Ms. Dennard went into the BOP with a treatable foot infection, contracted MRSA several months later because her infection was not cared for properly, and now, the BOP has reported that she cannot be released due to the CARES Act because of the MRSA,” her attorney Stephanie Kessler wrote in the motion.
The BOP medical hold blocks Dennard’s transfer from prison to a halfway house, Kessler wrote.
Dennard entered BOP custody with a preexisting condition to her right foot and complained that a pin was coming out of her toe from where she had rods and pins inserted in a prior surgery. She developed an infection which worsened due to inadequate care and eventually led to MRSA, according to the motion.
“To get rid of the infection and be released, she could do one of two things: (1) have surgery to remove the metal in her foot or (2) undergo a 6–8- week course of antibiotics. She chose to have the surgery. On December 14, 2021, Ms. Dennard had surgery to have the hardware in her toe removed,” Kessler said.
BOP lost Dennard’s lab cultures, so “BOP had to presume she still had MRSA and thus, she had to undergo the 6–8-week course of antibiotics that she thought she had avoided by choosing surgery.”
Then, in January of 2022 Dennard contracted COVID-19.
“Conditions at FPC Alderson are so poor that, earlier this year, relatives of inmates staged a peaceful protest,” Kessler wrote.
Dennard teaches GED classes at the prison camp and tutors students in the evening, Kessler wrote.