Fired Dayton city employee RoShawn Winburn pleaded guilty on Tuesday and was convicted of corruptly soliciting a bribe in return for giving confidential information to an individual seeking city contracts.
In a plea agreement accepted by the U.S. Attorney’s office, the remaining five felony counts will be dismissed, said Brent Tabacchi, assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio.
Winburn, 46, faces up to 10 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas M. Rose on May 21 after a pre-sentence investigation. Winburn agreed to pay restitution and broadly waive his right to appeal as part of his plea agreement.
“He accepts that he did something wrong and now has to hope for the best as far as the consequences of that behavior,” said David P. Williamson, Winburn’s attorney.
“This is a bright young man. He made a mistake. He’s lost his job with the city. Lost his reputation, hopefully not forever. He’s a fine, smart, honorably discharged veteran, has got a master’s degree. He’s got a lot to offer. Good family man,” Williamson said.
Winburn’s is the third conviction among seven people indicted in the the federal government’s investigation of public corruption in the Dayton region.
“I think with all these cases that have gone forward to sentencing it’s a sad day for everybody involved. It’s a sad day for the city of Dayton. It’s sad for the defendants,” Tabacchi said outside court.
He said Winburn is “a man that’s very accomplished. And it makes it all the more tragic that he decided to do this. He hasn’t thrown his life away by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s certainly made it a lot more difficult for himself and a lot more difficult for the city.”
Winburn is a former Huber Heights councilman who between 2014 and his firing last May served alternately as director of the city’s of Dayton’s Minority Business Assistance Center and as business and technical assistance administrator. While working as MBAC director Winburn had met “Individual A,” identified in court documents as a business owner who had been unsuccessful in efforts to obtain city contracts, according to a statement of facts Winburn signed as part of his plea agreement.
Winburn had access to confidential city information about upcoming city contracts, cost and material estimates and other information that could give Individual A an advantage over other bidders.
Between July 2015 and July 2016, in exchange for giving Individual A confidential information about an upcoming city of Dayton contract worth more than $5,000, Winburn accepted envelopes containing cash payments totaling more than $6,500, according to the statement of facts. The payments included an exchange of $2,000 for documents Winburn gave Individual A in a downtown Dayton bar, the statement of facts said.
Winburn was originally indicted and pleaded not guilty to three counts of honest services wire fraud, two counts of corruptly soliciting a bribe and one count of making a false statement to the FBI, all felonies.
The federal probe became public last April when the U.S. attorney unsealed secret indictments dating as far back as Winburn’s September 2018 indictment. Two of those indicted — former Dayton City Commissioner Joey D. Williams and former State Rep. Clayton Luckie — pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison. Three others are awaiting trial after pleading not guilty, and one has not yet appeared in court to submit a plea.
Tabacchi said the federal government collected “dozens if not hundreds of hours of audio and video” in the public corruption investigation. He said the three convictions offer an opportunity for introspection on the part of government officials “to make sure that things like this don’t happen in the future.”
The city of Dayton hired the law firm Green and Green to do an internal investigation but has declined to provide public updates on that process, citing attorney-client privilege. Spokeswoman Toni Bankston said the city does not comment on personnel issues and so, because Winburn is a former employee, she declined comment.
Dayton’s Minority Business Assistance Center is a partnership with the state of Ohio’s Development Services office. Spokesman Todd Walker declined comment
Defendants await trial
Brian Higgins, 48, co-owner of Quincy’s restaurant in Dayton, pleaded not guilty to three counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud, but has not submitted a plea on a superseding indictment on those same felony charges.
Higgins is not a public official and unlike the others indicted in the probe his case does not involve public contracting.
The feds also indicted Steve Rauch, 64, owner of Steve Rauch Inc., former Trotwood Mayor Joyce Sutton Cameron, 71, owner of Green Star Trucking Inc. and her husband, James Cameron, 81, of Trotwood, who is an employee of Green Star and has not yet made an initial court appearance.
The three were each indicted on one of count conspiracy to commit mail fraud and six counts mail fraud, all felonies.
Rauch and Joyce Sutton Cameron pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to be tried March 2.
Rauch is accused of using Green Star’s minority-owned status to win demolition contracts from the city of Dayton and other government entities between 2012 and 2014. He and the Camerons allegedly produced false documentation to make it appear Green Star had done work that Rauch completed, according to the indictment.
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