Judge denies Sittenfeld's motions for acquittal, new trial

Former Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld arrives at the federal courthouse on June 27, 2022 with his wife, Sarah Coyne.
Posted at 6:00 PM, Apr 17, 2023

CINCINNATI — A U.S. district court judge has denied P.G. Sittenfeld's motions for acquittal and a new trial, meaning a sentencing date will finally be set more than two years after the former city councilman was arrested in November 2020.

Judge Douglas Cole denied both motions Monday, April 17, nine months after Sittenfeld was found guilty on one charge of bribery and one charge of attempted extortion connected to interactions with "Vinny," a retired FBI agent who posed as a wealthy investor boss who grew up in New Jersey, lived in Providence and liked to spend time on his yacht in Miami.

In a video recording shown to jurors, while Sittenfeld ate chicken wings seated on a hotel couch, Vinny suggested that he wanted sports betting to be controlled in Cincinnati to ensure that he got the best share of the revenue at his hotel.

RELATED | PG Sittenfeld found guilty of bribery and extortion, not guilty on other four charges

Sittenfeld claims in his motion for acquittal that the government did not adequately prove the existence of a quid pro quo. Cole said the argument is not whether the government proved the existence of a quid pro quo, but whether what Sittenfeld said is enough for a jury to find intent.

"The government has the better of this argument," Cole wrote in his order.

In regards to Sittenfeld's claims that the government failed to prove a specific "official act," Cole wrote that "a rational juror could conclude that Sittenfeld promising to 'deliver the votes' could be understood as a promise to pressure or advise other City Council members on how to vote."

"Sittenfeld has not put forth any persuasive arguments supporting either his Motion for Acquittal ... or his Motion for a New Trial. For these reasons, the Court denies both motions," Cole wrote.

While a sentencing date has not yet been set, Sittenfeld could face two to three years in prison.

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