Attorney charged in Toledo council bribery scheme to stay free until trial

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — A private attorney accused along with four Toledo City Council members of taking part in a bribery and extortion scheme will be allowed to remain free while the case proceeds, a judge has ruled.

Federal prosecutors had sought to have Keith Mitchell detained until his trial, arguing that he eluded authorities for more than a day after learning of the pending charges. They also said Mitchell potentially obstructed justice when he called the council members after learning he and they were the targets of the corruption probe.

Mitchell, 69, told a federal judge late Wednesday that he thought the call he received early Tuesday from an FBI agent was nothing more than a prank, which is why he did not disclose his location during the call.

Mitchell and his four co-defendants — Tyrone Riley, Yvonne Harper, Larry Sykes and Garrick “Gary” Johnson, all Democrats who serve on the council — face bribery and extortion charges. Harper also faces a count of interstate communications with intent to extort, and prosecutors allege she used Mitchell to solicit and funnel bribe payments.

The four council members were all arrested early Tuesday without incident and were released later that day after making their initial court appearances. Each defendant could face up to 10 years on the bribery counts and 20 years on the extortion counts.