(TOLEDO, Ohio) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost today announced the filing of a Request to Commence Suspension Proceedings for four members of the Toledo City Council charged with bribery and extortion.
“Until allegations of public corruption are resolved in court, a suspension is the proper remedy to balance the accused’s right of a presumption of innocence with the public’s interest to have a functioning city council,” Yost said.
The request, filed in the Supreme Court of Ohio, states that Larry Sykes, Yvonne Harper, Garrick “Gary” Johnson and Tyrone Riley are charged with felonies stemming from alleged criminal activity that occurred in public office and cannot continue their duties as city council members while facing charges of bribery and extortion.
In response, three of the four city council members voluntarily signed a consent judgement entry, agreeing to the suspension pending the resolution of the felony charges in federal court. Mr. Johnson has yet to sign a judgement entry at this time.
“A consent agreement is voluntary on the part of the accused,” said Shelly Kennedy, managing attorney of the Ohio Attorney General’s regional office in Toledo. “The parties in this case will present the agreements to the Supreme Court, who in turn, may approve the suspensions.”
Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz and City Council President Matt Cherry requested that Yost initiate proceedings under Ohio Revised Code 3.16 to suspend the accused city council members from office.
The request outlines that the alleged criminal conduct adversely affects the function of the Toledo City Council and the rights and interest of the public. As one-third of the council’s members have been charged, if allowed to continue in their roles, each and every vote made by the council members would be called into question.
The request states, “The public has an unqualified right to expect that its City Council members will act in their best interest and in the best interest of their communities, without regard for personal gain. The public must be assured that matters appearing before the Toledo City Council will be handled in an ethical and lawful matter. Permitting (these) City Council Members to continue to perform their duties pending the resolution of the felony charges will erode public trust and confidence.”