Former CPD captain pleads guilty in bribery case

Former CPD captain pleads guilty in bribery case
Former Cincinnati Police Captain Michael Savard in a photo taken at a breaking news scene in 2013. (Source: WXIX)

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A former Cincinnati police captain pleaded guilty to federal charges Tuesday.

Michael Savard formally entered the pleas to bribery and filing a false income tax return in U.S. District Court.

He faces up to 13 years in prison and a $350,000 fine when he is sentenced at a later date.

His lawyer is seeking probation and has told FOX19 NOW he does not think the veteran law enforcement official will lose his pension.

Last month, Savard admitted to asking for and accepting a $5,000 bribe from an unnamed sergeant to retire early so the sergeant could be promoted, federal court records show.

Savard also “willfully filed false tax returns for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017,” the plea agreement states. He admitted he underreported his total income for 2015 by not reporting money he warned while working off-duty details.

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

Savard retired June 10 following his arrest a few days earlier.

He remains free on his own recognizance and has not publicly commented.

Savard spent his final months with the Cincinnati Police Department on desk duty amid a federal investigation.

Police officials never discussed why they stripped Savard of his police powers, badge and gun back in January.

Federal officials have said the bribery charges stemmed from information that was uncovered by a separate investigation.

This case occurred after a record number of his fellow officers also were stripped of their police powers and put desk duty, including nine in just two months and some who remain there today, several months later.

Savard, a CPD 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 also 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 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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