Cincinnati Councilor Wendell Young charged in SMS case

Cincinnati councilor Wendell Young is charged with his involvement in the text messaging case, which included four other city councilors in 2018.

Young was charged with one-time record tampering for allegedly deleting text messages related to the so-called “Gang of Five” case.

In a press release, Special Prosecutor Patrick Hanley writes: “The grand jury has determined that there is a probable cause that Councilor Young breached the law and tampered with the records. I intend to bring these charges to court and determine that he is guilty. ” unequivocally of this offense. “

The indictment says they have a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

WVXU has approached Young for comment. His attorney Scott Croswell says they have examined the charges and intend to aggressively defend the charges.

Earlier this week, Young told other local media outlets that he had been offered a plea that he had declined.

The Cincinnati Business Courier also reports that Croswell told a judge in 2019 “that Young had deleted the texts” months “prior to the order (not to do so) because he had already turned them over to the city law firm and published them locally had media. “

Hamilton County Attorney Joe Deters appointed Hanley, a Cincinnati business defense attorney who specializes in commercial defense, as a special attorney in December 2019. In September 2020, Hanley said he hadn’t brought charges against any of the five, but his investigation was still ongoing.

Hanley tells WVXU that he is expecting no further prosecution or investigation.

The five – Tamaya Dennard, Greg Landsman, Chris Seelbach, PG Sittenfeld and Young – admitted breaking the law in 2019. The case comes from text messages exchanged between the group in 2018 discussing city business and making decisions in violation of Ohio’s Sunshine Act. The city paid $ 101,000 to settle the case, including $ 90,000 in legal fees and $ 11,000 in fines.

The city also spent $ 75,000 on two outside law firms to handle the case against the councilors until the city’s law firm resumed its representation.

Three of the five remain on the council: Seelbach, Landsman and Young. Tamaya Dennard resigned from the city council in March 2019 after being arrested for extortion, bribery and cable fraud for allegedly offering to exchange her votes on the city council for money. PG Sittenfeld resigned “temporarily” in December while fighting allegations of federal bribery.

The SMS case does not refer to separate cases of bribery and other allegations against Dennard, Sittenfeld and suspended councilor Jeff Pastor.

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