Former Cincinnati police captain to plead guilty in bribery case

A Cincinnati police spokesman confirms the CPD captain who is under arrest and facing federal...
A Cincinnati police spokesman confirms the CPD captain who is under arrest and facing federal charges is Capt. Michael Savard (picture from 2013)(WXIX)
Updated: Aug. 29, 2019 at 2:53 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A former Cincinnati police captain agreed Thursday to enter guilty pleas to federal charges of bribery and income tax evasion, his attorney tells FOX19 NOW.

Michael Savard says in a plea agreement he solicited and agreed to take a $5,000 cash bribe from a Cincinnati police sergeant.

Federal authorities accuse Savard of trying to “shake down” the sergeant for cash to retire early while the sergeant was eligible to move up into his slot on CPD’s promotion list.

“I think the plea is in his best interest at this time,” said Savard’s attorney Christopher McDowell.

No court date has been set for the plea.

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Cincinnati Police Captain Michael Savard (Photo: Butler County jail)
Cincinnati Police Captain Michael Savard (Photo: Butler County jail)

Savard received the $5,000 in cash on June 6, according to the plea agreement. He also “willfully filed false tax returns for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017,” the plea agreement states.

Savard admits under-reporting his total income for 2015 by not reporting money he earned working off-duty details.

His attorney said he seek probation for his client and does not think he will lose his pension.

“Prosecutors think it is up to the judge, but they are not asking for that,” McDowell said.

Savard retired June 10 following his arrest a few days earlier. He has been free on his own recognizance.

He spent his final months at CPD on desk duty.

Savard was put on administrative leave in January.

Department officials never said why they took away his police powers, badge and gun.

It occurred in the midst of a federal investigation and a record number of his fellow officers also being stripped of their police powers and put desk duty, including nine in just two months and some who remain there today, several months later.

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Savard, an officer since April 1994, oversaw the department’s Special Services Section, which includes the K-9 and traffic units, and worked scores of off-duty details, including several at bars and clubs, while he was a lieutenant, police records show.

He was promoted to captain in April 2017 and was transferred to the Special Services Section in 2018, according to his personnel file.

His latest available job performance evaluation, from 2017, rated him “Exceeds Standards” on all sections, a copy of it shows.

Savard racked up hundreds of hours in recent years working off-duty details at bars and clubs.

Internal investigations, however, determined he violated police procedures for off-duty police details in 2015 and was reprimanded at least once, records show.

One of the reprimands, from June 2016, was for failure of good behavior. An an internal investigation concluded he violated procedures in 2015 related to personally dispersing lump sum cash given to him from representatives of Celebrities Nightclub in Roselawn to pay officers working off-duty details there, according to a copy of the reprimand.

Cincinnati police recently changed its procedure for outside employment for officers by prohibiting them from taking cash payments. The new policy, effective May 1, came just shy of two years after another police captain, Jeff Butler, recommended to Police Chief Eliot Isaac in a June 2017 memo that preparations be made to eliminate cash details in 2018.

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