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Suspended Toledo City Council member asks for separate federal trial

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 7:20 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Gary Johnson, one of the four Toledo City Council members facing federal bribery and extortion charges, is asking the court to separate his case from his colleagues’.

Johnson and his team have a very simple request in front of a federal court judge: space.

“I would like us to go in on our own. With our own problems and our successes and we’ll do pretty well,” said Rick Kerger, Johnson’s attorney.

Kerger has filed a motion with the court to separate Johnson’s trial from the other defendants, Yvonne Harper, Larry Sykes, and Tyrone Riley. All of them are also suspended from council.

“They allege a conspiracy but no place before the indictment came out did they suggest there was one. The affidavit and all that was silent. We still don’t have any evidence that I’m aware of that establishes a conspiracy, even hints at it,” said Kerger.

The court filing says in part that proceeding to trial with Johnson’s co-defendants will: “Prevent the jury from making a reliable judgment about his innocence or guilt.”

Johnson’s legal team says the case against him is a thin one, if there’s one at all.

“I think the evidence against him is certainly not as clear as it is to others,” said Kerger.

Kerger says if there are any conspiracies, they don’t involve his client who was also running for Lucas County Sheriff. The court motion says the government has thousands of pages of documents and video and audio but: “most of the material has nothing to do with Mr. Johnson.”

“My concern is there can be a tendency for evidence to bleed off on to somebody who’s not necessarily involved in it just because they’re sitting at the same table,” said Kerger.

No word on when the judge will rule on the motion. The US Attorney’s office declined to comment Friday on the request.

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