Ohio State Rep. W. Carlton Weddington resigned his seat and surrendered to the FBI Tuesday after being indicted following an extensive undercover sting. The Columbus Democrat is the first sitting state lawmaker in Ohio to be indicted on bribery charges in 100 years, reports the Columbus Dispatch
The FBI created a phony business that spent more than $16,000 sending Weddington on lavish trips to Miami and Napa Valley, Calif., in addition to giving him cash and campaign contributions. In return, Weddington said he’d introduce legislation in the business’ behalf, FBI special agent Edward Hanko said.
Authorities allege Weddington also did not disclose the trips and money on his campaign filings or his financial disclosure report.
The FBI targeted Weddington after the Dispatch reported last April that he told an official with the Center for Responsible Lending in Columbus he wanted a $2,500 payment made to the Legislative Black Caucus before the legislative group would talk about a payday lending bill.
Weddington faces charges of one count each of bribery, election falsification, and filing a false financial-disclosure form. He faces up to 4 ½ years in prison if he is convicted of all charges.
While the FBI conducted the sting, the charges were filed through the Franklin County courts, and Prosecutor Ron O’Brien said he expects to seek a prison sentence for Weddington.
Weddington is out on personal recognizance. His attorney, Sam Shamansky, said his client will plead not guilty during his arraignment Friday and confirmed plea-agreement discussions are going on with O’Brien’s office.
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