- A third member of Cincinnati’s City Council has been charged with taking bribes this year.
- P.G. Sittenfeld took $40,000 from undercover FBI agents to help on future projects, like a sports betting establishment.
- The Councilman could see up to 20 years in prison if found guilty, although he’s pleaded not guilty on all charges.
CINCINNATI – A City Councilman from Cincinnati was arrested by the FBI on Thursday for accepting bribes to get a number of development projects off of the ground with the promise of votes to various developers. One such project was a sportsbook facility when Ohio legalizes sports betting.
P.G. Sittenfeld was favored to become Cincinnati’s next Mayor in the 2021 election but now he could receive a maximum of 20 years in prison if he’s found guilty of the charges brought against him.
The Charges Against Sittenfeld & Sports Wagering’s Involvement
Sittenfeld has had a Council seat since 2011, maintaining his position for nine years. The 36-year-old made a name for himself as his popularity within the city grew, allowing him to gain more control and power of the happenings within his district.
Nine individuals comprise the Cincinnati City Council and Sittenfeld is the third member of those nine that have been charged with taking bribes in 2020.
The FBI has evidence showing that the politician took eight separate payments of $5,000 in 2018 and 2019 that totaled $40,000. Rather than accept the money to his personal accounts he put it through the PAC (political action committee) which he fully controlled.
These bribes were from fake developers, as there were rumors that led the FBI to begin a sting operation centered around the Councilman.
“I do have a PAC that no one’s like snooping around in who’s giving,” said Sittenfeld to the undercover agents. “Frankly, a lot of people don’t even know I have it.”
The agents met up with him under the ruse of being developers looking to open operations in the city and needing to grease the wheels to get that done. Sittenfeld promised these agents the votes that would allow them to open their businesses.
One such location he agreed to was a brick-and-mortar sportsbook that was to be developed by Chinedum Ndukwe, a former NFL star with the Cincinnati Bengals.
In doing this, he also promised to give the sportsbook a type of exclusivity in the city by allowing the location known as “Project One” to open and possibly not giving other sports betting operators the votes to open their businesses in the future.
An Ohio sports betting market does not exist at this time but when the legislation moves forward, this sports wagering facility would’ve been the number one spot for sports wagering in the city.
“Mr. Sittenfeld indicated he could use zoning codes in Cincinnati to create a controlled environment, so project one could have sports gambling to the exclusion of others,” said David DeVillers, Ohio’s Southern District US Attorney. “So ‘Project One’ could have sports gambling to the exclusion of others. What we’re alleging here is that he defrauded the city of Cincinnati of honest services and was no longer really working for the citizens of Cincinnati.”
Sittenfeld is being charged with bribery, attempted extortion, and wire fraud. His mayoral campaign run is no longer part of his political future and his nine years of building a career as a City Councilman have ended. He now awaits trial where he has pleaded not guilty.
“Don’t let these be my famous last words, but I can always get a vote to my left or a vote to my right,” said Sittenfeld to the undercover developers.
In an ironic twist, those will likely be the last words for his former life as a successful politician.
Christina has been writing for as long as she can remember and does dedicated research on the newly regulated sports betting market. She comes from a family of sports lovers that engage in friendly bets from time to time. During the winter months, you can find Christina baking cookies and beating the entire staff at Mario Kart…the N64 version of course.