CINCINNATI — Cincinnati city councilwoman Tamaya Dennard is facing federal bribery, attempted extortion and wire fraud charges, according to court records.
Dennard was arrested on the charges, which were unsealed in U.S. District Court Tuesday.
Dennard “engaged in acts and attempted acts of bribery and extortion, attempting to exchange her votes for money” between August and December of 2019, according to a release from the U.S. Department of Justice.
“As the affidavit details, a concerned citizen contacted law enforcement following an interaction with Dennard, feeling an ethical and moral obligation to report any criminal wrongdoing,” U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers said. “The individual then worked at the direction of law enforcement throughout this investigation. It takes courage for citizens to come forward and assist law enforcement as this individual did.”
Dennard allegedly requested between $10,000 and $15,000 from the individual to pay for her personal expenses.
At the direction of and in coordination with FBI, the individual and Dennard exchanged a total of $15,000, in increments of $10,000 and $5,000, for upcoming votes on a matter scheduled to be heard by Council, federal prosecutors said.
Records indicated the same day she received the $5,000 in cash, Dennard booked a flight from Cincinnati to Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport, prosecutors said.
Five days later, records show she booked two return tickets.
Prosecutors said Dennard spent more than $4,000 total on the Florida trip to include accommodations at the Opal Sands Resort in Clearwater, Fla. and the airfare.
According to the release, Dennard also continued to reach out to the person asking for money in October and November.
“Text messages from Dennard to the individual during that time include ‘Happy to help you. But need yours too’; and ‘As I said, I’m sure there will be ways to help you as well and I will,’” the release said.
If convicted as charged, Dennard could face up to 50 years in prison.