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FBI agent on P.G. Sittenfeld corruption case given ‘Letter of Censure’: court docs

P.G. Sittenfeld’s defense wants to keep former employee from testifying at corruption trial
Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 7:02 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 3, 2022 at 7:09 AM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - An FBI agent involved in the corruption case against P.G. Sittenfeld received a “Letter of Censure” after Sittenfeld’s attorneys alleged some of them committed misconduct.

Sittenfeld’s lawyers are trying to get a copy of the letter, but so far the FBI has not released it, court records indicate.

U.S. District Court Judge Douglas Cole ordered the FBI earlier this week to “immediately” turn the letter over to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Ohio who will review it and submit it for an in-camera inspection by the court if necessary, his order states.

The government “shall then provide the Letter (with any appropriate redactions) to Sittenfeld immediately thereafter SO ORDERED,” the judge wrote Tuesday when the final pretrial conference was held on the case before the trial begins later this month.

Sittenfeld’s attorneys alleged in court records last year their preliminary investigation indicated “agents in this case committed violations of the Attorney General Guidelines on FBI Undercover Operations and Department of Justice Ethics Handbook For On and Off-Duty Conduct which directly relates to the agent credibility and motivations in the operation.”

The attorneys filed a motion to compel last year that claimed undercover FBI agents and a cooperating witness in the case may have committed misconduct that includes giving “underage girls” liquor.”

Federal officials have requested that information be under seal and not disclosed in public filings, the motion states.

FBI agents involved in the undercover operation held an opening day party in March 2019 at their government-rented upscale downtown penthouse, according to the motion.

Sittenfeld and other elected officials were present for a portion of the party.

Sittenfeld saw Chinedum Ndukwe with multiple females who appeared to be under the legal drinking age. In subsequent interactions with undercover agents, Sittenfeld, who was not aware he was being recorded, raised concerns about Ndukwe’s actions.

Ndukwe is a major witness in Sittenfeld’s upcoming trial on June 21. He once played for the Cincinnati Bengals and now is a developer who cooperated with the investigation.

In early May 2019, Sittenfeld asked the undercover agents about the females who were with Ndukwe on Opening Day and asked where his wife was.

In response, one of the agents said, according to court records, ‘“Those girls - he met them at a bar. They drank everything in our (expletive) house that night. They cleaned us out. We ran out, we ran out of vodka, we ran out of tequila.”

On a July 8, 2019 recording, Sittenfeld said that the last time he saw Ndukwe that Ndukwe was “with a gaggle of six underage girls on Opening Day.” In response, the agent laughingly said “Underage girls, like your boy Epstein.”

Sittenfeld’s trial is expected to last three to four weeks, one of his attorneys told FOX19 NOW.

The once mayoral front-runner’s political career, at least for now, came to a halt, at least for now, when he was indicted in November 2020.

Sittenfeld is charged with honest services wire fraud, bribery and attempted extortion by a government official.

Federal officials say he promised support for development deals in exchange for $40,000 in donations to his political action fund (PAC).

He has maintained his innocence from the start. The plan is to “fight it until the very end,” Sittenfeld told FOX19 NOW outside the federal courthouse last year.

Sittenfeld is one of three Cincinnati City Council members who were indicted in 2020 in what prosecutors allege is a pay-to-play scheme exchanging votes for cash or PAC contributions.

Sittenfeld’s former colleague on council, Jeff Pastor a Republican, was indicted on similar charges just days before Sittenfeld’s arrest.

Pastor has pleaded not guilty. His case recently was delayed while he looked for a new lawyer after his former one was temporarily suspended from practicing law in both Ohio and Kentucky.

Last week, Pastor requested and received more time to find a lawyer, newly filed court records show. U.S. District Court Judge Matthew McFarland plans to check back with him on July 15 in a telephone status conference.

A third council member, Democrat Tamaya Dennard, 41, resigned from council in March 2020 after she was arrested the previous month.

She pleaded guilty to a wire fraud charge, was sentenced to 18 months in prison and reported to one in West Virginia on June 1, 2021.

Dennard was released early to a halfway house recently and is scheduled to be fully released later this month, on June 12.

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