Summit County Councilwoman Indicted

Summit County Councilwoman Tamela Lee [photo: FBI]
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Summit County Councilwoman Tamela (TAM uh luh)  Lee is free on bond after pleading not guilty to six counts of federal violations including accepting bribes.  Three Co-defendants are being held pending a hearing on Tuesday to determine their flight risk.  Ideastream’s Mark Urycki has details..

 

The FBI raided council woman Tamela Lee’s home over a year ago.   Now her indictment reads like a small time version of the corruption case of former Cuyahoga County Commissioner Jimmy Dimora.  Both were charged with bribery – or as the feds put it- accepting things of value in return for official acts.  That’s a violation of the Hobbes Act – which covers public corruption and places a case under federal jurisdiction.

Prosecutors say Lee accepted cash and home improvements from a North Canton man Omar Abdelqader, the owner of Akron area convenience stores.    Lee allegedly contacted a judge who was hearing a criminal case involving Abdelqader’s nephew Samir Abdelqader, who was also indicted along with Omar’s brother Abdelrahman Abdelqader.   The FBI quotes an apparent phone tap of Omar telling an acquaintance “ I am keeping her because we need her, ” “She is better than an attorney to us!”  

Judge Nancy Vecchiarelli at the federal court house in Cleveland released Lee on the condition that she immediately go on unpaid leave from her position on council.   She is also banned from having any contact with county employees, other than family members. 

The first African-American woman on the county council is also a vice president of the Summit County Democratic Party.  The acting chair of the party, Sandra Kurt, issued a statement saying “the alleged behavior has absolutely no place in our Party. The allegations are only allegations at this point, however, and Ms Lee must be presumed innocent until proven guilty.“

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