Feds take aim at P.G. Sittenfeld’s defense in new court filing
CINCINNATI (Enquirer) - Federal prosecutors took aim at P.G. Sittenfeld’s defense Tuesday in responding to allegations they misstated the case against him at a news conference and used only parts of his statements in charging documents to make his words seem more incriminating, according to our media partners at the Enquirer.
Attorneys for the suspended Cincinnati City Councilman have said officials were wrong to say Sittenfeld’s political action committee was secret and that his control of it was “against federal law.”
In a motion filed Tuesday in federal court in Cincinnati, prosecutors say describing the PAC as secret was a logical conclusion, based on Sittenfeld’s own words. The documents list several of his recorded statements to undercover agents about his Progress and Growth PAC.
- “I do have a PAC that…no one’s, like, snooping around in… Frankly, a lot of people don’t even know I have it.”
- “Basically no one knows about it.”
- “I mean this will…certainly support and benefit me, but my name is not connected to it, in any way.”
Sittenfeld’s attorneys have said that the PAC was publicly available on a government website and that Sittenfeld operated it lawfully.
Prior to being indicted in November on charges including bribery and attempted extortion, Sittenfeld was the frontrunner to become mayor in this year’s election. It’s not unusual for candidates to have such PACs, which allow people to donate more money to candidates than allowed in their city campaign funds.
Sittenfeld has hinted he may still run. On Monday, more than 100 prominent city residents, including attorneys and current and former politicians, signed a letter calling the prosecution of Sittenfeld unfair and unjust.
Sittenfeld’s attorneys have filed a motion to dismiss the indictment. A hearing about that issue is set for Feb. 16.
Payments ‘made in return for official acts’
The motion filed Tuesday also details why prosecutors believe Sittenfeld’s use of his PAC violated federal law.
Prosecutors say it allowed him to accept contributions in a way that would hide the identities of people making them, “and thus provided a mechanism to conceal the bribery.”
According to prosecutors, Sittenfeld collected $40,000 in checks from multiple undercover agents he thought were developers, knowing their actual names would not be on filings to the Federal Elections Commission. Instead, the checks were in the names of limited liability companies created for the purpose of making the payments. That violates federal law, prosecutors say, because a contribution can’t be made “in the name of another person.”
Prosecutors also note that an indictment doesn’t state all the evidence, but instead lets Sittenfeld know what charges he faces and why. The indictment, they say, quotes only the portions of Sittenfeld’s statements that are legally relevant – “which accurately put the Defendant on notice that he is being charged with receiving payments knowing they were made in return for official acts, like delivering votes.”
The remaining parts of Sittenfeld’s statements, prosecutors say, are irrelevant and don’t even offer a defense to the crimes alleged.
Sittenfeld’s attorney, Charlie M. Rittgers, declined to comment on the motion. A written response is due to be filed in the near future, court records show.
The documents filed Tuesday are part of a battle over whether prosecutors should disclose more of the secret audio recordings involving Sittenfeld. His attorneys want to release them because they say the full context shows he didn’t do anything wrong.
See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Click here to report it. Please include title of story.
Copyright 2021 ENQUIRER. All rights reserved.