Former longtime Dayton City Commissioner Joey Williams is among a handful of public officials and business owners now facing federal fraud charges. The Department of Justice said Tuesday the charges are the result of a sweeping investigation into alleged public corruption in the city of Dayton.
Federal officials allege Williams accepted more than $50,000 in bribes from a business owner interested in obtaining city demolition contracts. In exchange, the city of Dayton and Citywide Development Corporation awarded the business more than $150,000 in contracts, according to the indictment.
Williams served on the Dayton City Commission from 2001 until he abruptly resigned his position last year, just months after his reelection. He’s currently an employee of KeyBank, and previously served on the Dayton School Board.
If convicted, Williams could face up to 10 years in jail.
The federal investigation also led to the indictments of two other public officials and a local business owner.
Roshawn Winburn, current director of the Dayton Human Relations Council Minority Business Assistance Center, is facing wire fraud and public corruption charges. Federal documents allege Winburn accepted $20,000 in bribes and gave confidential information to companies seeking city contracts.
Winburn has been placed on administrative leave, Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein said Tuesday.
Business owner and former state lawmaker Clayton Luckie is charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Federal officials say Luckie devised “a scheme to take advantage of programs offered by the federal and state governments to help disadvantaged businesses.”
In 2013 Luckie pleaded guilty to several charges, including election falsification, money laundering and grand theft. He served just over three years in state prison and was released in 2016.
Brian Higgins, a Dayton-area entrepreneur, is accused of submitting a fraudulent insurance claim related to the repair of a 600-gallon fish tank at his home.
Federal investigators allege Higgins planned to use $100,000 worth of insurance payments for personal use.
Higgins is the former owner of a dead body removal company, which was involved in scandals related to unpaid taxes and corruption.
At a press conference Tuesday, Department of Justice officials said that although the four cases are separate, they resulted from the same ongoing investigation into what Cincinnati FBI Special Agent Joseph Deters called Dayton’s “culture of corruption.”
“Today's arrest should serve as a wakeup call,” said Deters. “This type of behavior will not be tolerated. It will be investigated and prosecuted. Those involved in bribery and fraud will face jail time. The people of Dayton deserve better.”
The city says it’s fully cooperating with investigators, and reviewing all current and potential contracts.
At a press conference at Dayton City Hall Tuesday, City Manager Shelley Dickstein pushed back against the FBI’s statement describing a “culture of corruption” in Dayton government.
"I would not agree with that characterization and certainly the 22 years that I have been here this is the only incident that I can recall that we've had any elected official involved in any corruption as well as an employee to this extent, so I would wholeheartedly disagree that there is a culture. I believe that there are individuals who sometimes make bad decisions and we will deal with that,” she stated.
Dickstein said she also worries about how the investigation will affect public workers.
“We have a committed group of 1,900-plus employees who get up every day to make a difference in this community and when something like this happens it's a real black cloud that tends to overshadow things and so I worry about that, and I want to make sure that our organization stays focused and stays delivering the great service that we've been delivering and hopefully we will work through this as quickly and expeditiously as possible.”
Mayor Nan Whaley and current city commissioners were not present at the press conference.
On Tuesday evening Whaley responded, saying in a written statement:
"I, like all City employees, learned of today's indictments involving City officials through the media. I, like many Daytonians, am sad for our City. The City will cooperate fully with the appropriate authorities and I support the City Manager in a thorough investigation of the City's processes to protect all Dayton residents."
U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman told reporters that the indictments were just the first wave of anticipated charges to come from a longterm investigation into alleged corruption.
“These are indictments and indictments are just allegations. They're just putting the defendants on notice with what they're charged with. These defendants are presumed innocent unless and until the United States proves them guilty, with evidence, beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said.
Federal law enforcement officials declined to name any businesses that might have been involved in the alleged corruption.
Officials urged members of the public with information related to the allegations to contact the FBI’s public tip-line at 937-291-5222.