Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Ohio AG Dave Yost files request to suspend councilmember Pastor over corruption charges

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Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost filed a request Monday to force the suspension of Jeff Pastor, Cincinnati city councilmember, who faces felony charges of bribery, extortion, wire fraud, money laundering and other crimes.

Pastor pleaded not guilty to a sweeping 10-count federal indictment after he was arrested Nov. 10 at his North Avondale home. Between August 2018 and February 2019, Pastor, 36, allegedly accepted $55,000 in payoffs from developers in exchange for his vote or help on projects, according to an indictment unsealed by the federal court in Cincinnati last week. Pastor faces up to 20 years in prison.

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“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 release. “Ohioans deserve government that is free of public corruption at every level.”

The request to start suspension proceedings, filed in the Ohio Supreme Court, cites the Nov. 4 indictment of Pastor on 10 felony counts in the U.S. District Court of Ohio. Yost sought to start the suspension proceedings under Ohio Revised Code 3.16, which authorizes the suspension of a public official who has been charged with a felony in a state or federal court when the felony related to the performance of the official’s duties.

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“In a shocking lack of integrity,” Yost’s request states, “Pastor violated the public trust by offering his council vote and his potential influence over matters appearing before the City Council in exchange for his own personal gain.”

Two Pastor associates told the Business Courier he does not intend to resign his seat and will fight the charges against him in federal court. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be named discussing private conversations. They said they have spoken directly to the Republican councilman since the FBI arrested him Tuesday morning at his North Avondale home.

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