Luckie pleads not guilty, released on bond

State Rep. Clayton Luckie, D-Dayton, pleaded not guilty Wednesday afternoon to 45 felony counts and four misdemeanors relating to the charges of theft involving nearly $130,000 from his campaign account over the last six years.

Luckie, wearing jail garb, appeared before Franklin County Common Pleas Judge Guy L. Reece, who released Luckie on a $100,000 signature bond. Prosecutors said Luckie has been cooperative and did not pose a flight risk.

There was no immediate word on Luckie’s health status after he suffered a health issue while being booked into the Franklin County Jai. He was taken to a hospital.

That booking followed his court appearance Wednesday afternoon. He appeared in Columbus earlier in the day to turn himself in to the FBI and make the court appearance at 1:30 p.m.

It was unclear what health issue had occurred.

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Charges include theft in office, money laundering, forgery, tampering with records, tampering with evidence, engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, and filing false ethics statements for failing to disclose four separate loans.

The most serious charge is engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first degree felony that carries a maximum penalty of 11 years in prison.

Luckie sent campaign cash to his personal checking accounts, made almost $19,000 in ATM withdrawals, and spent almost $40,000 in 800 debit card transactions, according to Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien. He made $1,700 in cash withdrawals from the campaign account at casinos in Indiana, Florida and West Virginia, made an $1,800 online transfer from his campaign account to make a home equity line of credit payment to a bank and spent campaign cash at Morris Home Furnishings, Weber Jewelers, Famous Footwear, Nordstrom and other retail stores, according to O’Brien.

Luckie, reached by phone this morning, said, “I have no comment. Have a nice day.”

The charges are the result of a joint investigation between O’Brien’s office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Special agents and a forensic accountant assigned to the Columbus FBI corruption squad worked the case.

Luckie also faces more than 20 counts of election falsification over false information filed on his campaign finance reports. When auditors for the Ohio Secretary of State questioned expenses detailed on his campaign reports, Luckie produced bogus invoices and receipts to cover his tracks, investigators say. In 2006, Luckie designated a campaign treasurer without the man’s knowledge and forged his signature, prosecutors say.

Initially appointed to the Ohio House in 2006, Luckie had been seeking his fourth two-year term but he agreed to take his name off the ballot in August after news broke that he was under criminal investigation. Montgomery County Democrats named former lawmaker Fred Strahorn as the replacement candidate to run against Republican Jeff Wellbaum in the 39th House district, which includes most of the city of Dayton.

Luckie is currently serving out the remainder of this term, serves on the powerful state Controlling Board, sits on the House education and insurance committees, and is a member of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus.

Earlier this year, W. Carlton Weddington, another member of the black caucus, resigned and pleaded guilty to bribery and other charges and agreed to cooperate with authorities in ongoing investigations.

Before going to the House, Luckie served a decade on the Dayton School Board from 1996 to 2006. He lives in the Wright-Dunbar Historic District and works part-time for JEC Paper & Related Products where he made less than $10,000 last year, according to his financial disclosure statement filed with the state. His state representative job pays $68,000 a year.

In June 2010, Luckie and his wife Lisa Beth filed for divorce. In their divorce agreement, they split up their $56,000 in consumer credit card debt: $36,000 for him, $20,000 for her.

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