One of four defendants has pleaded guilty in a high-profile federal investigation into what an FBI official called a “culture of corruption” in Dayton-area politics.
Former state Rep. Clayton Luckie, 56, of Dayton, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of mail fraud, according to a plea agreement and statement of facts filed with U.S. District Court in Dayton.
“We decided to resolve our issues at this time,” said Luckie’s attorney, Aaron Durden. “I’ll have much more to say at the end of the case. I don’t want to jeopardize this opportunity at this early stage of the case.”
His client faces up to 20 years in prison but federal court documents say the U.S. Attorney has agreed to recommend probation. Luckie’s sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 15.
The plea agreement reveals for the first time that Luckie netted $2,000 from a scheme to defraud the city of Dayton. He used its disadvantaged business program to help a non-disadvantaged demolition contractor fraudulently complete city contracts between June 2016 and January 2017, according to court documents.
“Today’s plea involving an individual charged as part of an ongoing investigation into public corruption in Dayton is another step in the legal process,” said Ben Glassman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio. “Because the investigation is continuing, I will offer no further statement at this time beyond what is in the court record.”
Luckie was one of four Dayton men whose federal indictments were unsealed April 30 after a lengthy investigation that FBI Special Agent in Charge Joseph Deters said uncovered “what appears to be a culture of corruption in Dayton-area politics.” Officials described the four cases as separate schemes that were part of the same investigation.
Luckie was originally indicted on two fourth-degree felony counts, one for mail fraud and the other for wire fraud, and he initially pleaded not guilty.
Also indicted were former City Commissioner Joey D. Williams, 53; former Huber Heights Councilman RoShawn Winburn, 45, the city of Dayton’s business and technical assistance administrator and former director of the Dayton Minority Business Assistance Center; and Brian Higgins, 48, a Dayton businessman. All three have pleaded not guilty. Winburn was put on paid administrative leave after the indictment and then fired, a decision he is appealing.
Attorneys for Williams, Winburn and Higgins couldn’t be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Asked if Luckie would now cooperate with federal authorities in their prosecution of other defendants, Durden said his client’s case is not associated with anyone else.
“The undercover operation targeted him only,” Durden said. “He had his own case … that has no association with any of the other cases.”
Luckie “engaged in a series of conversations with a local demolition company” about its “efforts to fraudulently complete certain Dayton contracts that had participation requirements for disadvantaged businesses,” according to the statement of facts submitted with Luckie’s plea. That company is identified only as “Corporation B.”
Luckie had an affiliation with another company — dubbed Corporation A — which was not in the demolition or construction industry. He used that company’s name to make it appear that a disadvantaged business had done demolition and debris removal when that had actually been done by Corporation B, according to the statement of facts.
Luckie created fake invoices and ordered large magnetic signs with Corporation A’s name on them to place on Corporation B’s trucks at job sites, the documents say. Those signs arrived through the mail or commercial interstate carrier in August 2016.
Durden declined to identify the companies involved in the alleged fraud.
Bankston said details of Luckie’s case “have not been shared with us. We have no further comments on this matter.”
Luckie, a Democrat, served 10 years on the Dayton School Board and seven years in the Ohio House.
In 2012, investigators found that Luckie diverted roughly $130,000 from his campaign account for personal use while serving in the Ohio House.
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In early 2013, he pleaded guilty to six counts of election falsification, one count of money laundering, one count of grand theft and one misdemeanor count of filing a false ethics statement.
Luckie was sentence to three years in state prison and released in March 2016.
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Williams, who served on the Dayton city commission from 2002 to 2018, is accused of accepting bribes to help a company get city contracts. Williams allegedly used his influence to help an unidentified individual win city and CityWide Development Corp. contracts in return for more than $50,000 in free benefits, including cash payments and construction work, the federal indictment alleges.
Winburn was indicted after allegedly taking bribes in exchange for helping people and companies try to do business with the city of Dayton and sharing confidential information about upcoming projects, according to the indictment.
In return for bribes, Winburn also allegedly did not fully review the small, disadvantaged, minority or woman-owned business qualifications or certifications of people and companies, the indictment says.
Higgins has owned multiple businesses, including the now-closed SideBar restaurant in Oregon District and a livery that formerly transported bodies for Montgomery County and the city of Chicago. The county contract ended in 2012 after a Dayton Daily News investigation found he was delinquent on hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes and had a business relationship with Ken Betz, then director of the county coroner’s office.
Higgins has been accused of submitting a fraudulent insurance claim related to a massive leaking fish tank in his home, which was going through foreclosure. Higgins allegedly created and sent in fake paperwork about repairs on the property, causing more than $100,000 in losses to an insurance company, the indictment says.
Staff writer Laura A. Bischoff contributed to this report.
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