'Judgment is so easy’: Tamaya Dennard makes first comments following arrest

Updated: Feb. 26, 2020 at 6:08 PM EST
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CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard thanked supporters in her first comments following her arrest on federal charges.

Dennard is accused of bribery, attempted extortion and honest services wire fraud, according to court records unsealed Tuesday.

She posted a statement on her Facebook page Wednesday to let everyone know that she is “alright”.

Dennard wrote that messages, prayers, and hugs have helped her “more than you can imagine”.

“Going through hard times have (sic) a way of revealing things both about yourself and others. Thank you to everyone who have (sic) made a conscious decision to allow me due process before casting judgment. Judgment is so easy. Thank you to everyone who believes in and affirms my goodness,” Dennard wrote.

She concluded the post with #BendButDontBreak.

Tamaya Dennard thanked her supporters on her Facebook page Wednesday following her arrest on...
Tamaya Dennard thanked her supporters on her Facebook page Wednesday following her arrest on federal charges.(Facebook)

The attorneys representing the Democratic councilwoman, Martin Pinales and Eric Eckes, also released a statement Wednesday:

“Ms. Dennard looks forward to addressing the serious allegations made against her. She understands there are immediate questions about her continued service on City Council. She recognizes that her constituents deserve to know whether she will continue to serve in the seat to which she was elected while she works to clear her name. To that end, Ms. Dennard will make a decision about her future on City Council by the end of next week.”

Dennard is accused of engaging in and attempting acts of bribery and extortion and trying to exchange her votes for money between August and December 2019.

Federal records show Dennard said she needed money for rent, a car and attorney fees. She also texted the employee a picture of an eviction notice.

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The criminal complaint alleges she requested $10,000 to $15,000 for personal expenses from an employee at a law firm representing a stakeholder in The Banks development on the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati.

She deposited $10,000 in a personal bank account the same day she received it and requested the additional $5,000 in advance, the criminal complaint states.

According to court records, Dennard agreed to give her support to a proposed land swap with Hilltop Basic Concrete necessary for construction of a music venue at The Banks development on Cincinnati’s riverfront.

On Tuesday, she appeared in federal court in handcuffs and leg irons and was released on her own recognizance but ordered to surrender her passport.

She was not present in the first city council meeting since her arrest on Wednesday.

If convicted, Dennard would no longer be able to be an elected official in Ohio.

State law prohibits people from holding office if they are convicted of a felony of fraud, theft, or deceit, according to Ohio Revised Code.

Dennard will continue to hold her city council seat for now.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost could launch the process of seeking her suspension. He could ask the Ohio State Supreme Court to establish a special commission, one typically made up of retired judges from various counties in the state, to review the case and decide.

“I am in discussions with Hamilton County prosecutor Joe Deters and researching case law regarding application of the state statute in a federal prosecution," Yost said Wednesday. "A decision will be made in due course.”

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters confirms he has contacted representatives in the attorney general’s office and that they are keeping all options open regarding a suspension for Dennard.

If she is suspended or agrees to be suspended while her criminal case works through the court system, a previously designated council member she has on file with the council clerk will pick her successor, said Hamilton County Democratic Chairman Tim Burke. That person is Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, city officials confirmed Tuesday.

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