Former Cincinnati Councilman Jeff Pastor pleads guilty in corruption case
CINCINNATI (WXIX) - Former City Councilman Jeff Pastor pleaded guilty in federal court Wednesday to honest services wire fraud.
Pastor, 39, admitted “he deprived the citizens of Cincinnati of their right to honest services by a public official by accepting bribes in exchange for official action,” said a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Ohio.
Pastor wiped his eyes with a tissue after he agreed to plead guilty.
He could face up to two years in prison, a term of supervised release no longer than three years, and a fine not to exceed $250,000, according to the plea agreement.
The agreement says Pastor may seek a sentence of probation and has agreed to the forfeiture of $15,000.
You can read the full text of the plea agreement at the end of this story.
Judge Matthew McFarland still has to accept the plea agreement which will happen at a later date as well as Pastor’s sentencing.
Pastor becomes the third Cincinnati City Council Member to plead out or be found guilty of corruption in a series of corruption cases federal authorities launched in 2017.
Pastor, a Republican, was indicted in November 2020 on charges of bribery, extortion, wire fraud, money laundering and more related to his role on the council, from which he voluntarily resigned in November 2020 following his arrest.
Pastor has remained free on his own recognizance throughout the case.
According to federal court records, Pastor solicited and received $55,000 in bribes between August 2018 and February 2019 in exchange for favorable action on development projects that council was considering.
Federal authorities have said he was only six months into his first term as a council member when he sought his first bribe.
His business partner, Tyran Marshall, arranged for some payments and set up a nonprofit that Pastor used to “sanitize” money from the alleged bribes, federal records show.
Marshall was indicted on charges of conspiring to commit wire fraud, bribery, attempted extortion and money laundering.
He has pleaded not guilty and also remained free.
Pastor’s trial, had it gone on, would have revealed more Cincinnati corruption evidence through audio and on-camera recordings, some of which were presented at former Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld’s trial last summer.
Pastor and Sittenfeld’s cases are separate, federal officials say, but some of the same undercover FBI agents were on both cases.
Federal authorities have more evidence against Pastor than what they showed Sittenfeld’s jurors.
It came out during Sittenfeld’d trial that the FBI spent $100,000 to take Pastor on a trip to Miami in 2018 with former Cincinnati Bengal turned developer Chinedum Ndukwe, a paid FBI informant.
The group flew down on a private plane, stayed in a “nice” hotel, dined at “fancy restaurants,” drank “expensive” liquor, cruised on a yacht and visited a “high-end strip club” called Tootsie’s Cabaret, one of Sittenfeld’s lawyers noted during cross-examination of the lead FBI agent.
Sittenfeld didn’t go on the trip to Miami, or to other destinations like Nashville and Las Vegas that agents offered to take him to.
Deputy Criminal Chief Emily Glatfelter asked the lead FBI agent, Nathan Holbrook, on re-direct to define how the FBI classifies public corruption investigations after Sittenfeld’s defense questioned the cost to taxpayers.
It’s a top national security priority for the agency nationwide, Holbrook responded.
Public corruption is “the number one criminal priority” in the Cincinnati area because elected officials are in the public trust, he testified on June 27, 2022.
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