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Ex-councilwoman Tamaya Dennard to leave prison in May, heads to halfway house

She pleaded guilty in an Ohio public corruption case
Former Cincinnati City Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard
Posted at 8:42 PM, Apr 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-25 20:42:28-04

Former Cincinnati City Councilwoman Tamaya Dennard will be released from prison next week and sent to a halfway house to finish the remainder of her sentence for public corruption, according to a motion filed by federal prosecutors.

Dennard is serving an 18-month sentence after pleading guilty to honest services wire fraud for accepting $15,000 as part of a scheme to exchange her votes for money.

FBI agents arrested Dennard in February 2020 near a Downtown Starbucks before a council committee meeting. Her arrest was the first of three public corruption cases to rock City Hall that year: Councilmembers Jeff Pastor and P.G. Sittenfeld both were arrested in November, accused of accepting bribes.

She reported to prison on June 1, 2021, and has been housed at Federal Prison Camp Alderson, a minimum-security federal prison camp for female inmates in West Virginia. Her official release date is still listed as Sept. 9, according to the Bureau of Prisons website.

Dennard asked U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott to let her out of prison early due to a foot infection. In a motion for compassionate release filed on March 25, Dennard asked the judge to reduce her sentence to time served. This would allow her to begin serving three years of supervised release while living at her mother’s home.

The Bureau of Prisons has transferred tens of thousands of eligible inmates to home confinement in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and released others. This comes under the emergency authority exercised by the U.S. Attorney General’s office through the CARES Act to stop the spread of COVID-19 in prisons.

Federal prisons officials released Evans Landscaping owner Doug Evans from Ashland Federal Correctional Institution and sent him back to Cincinnati for home confinement or a halfway house on Dec. 2 after he served six months of his 21-month sentence for minority contracting fraud.

In Dennard’s case, her apparent eligibility for CARES Act release was blocked by a medical hold for an ongoing foot infection that worsened while she was in prison.

“Ms. Dennard went into the BOP with a treatable foot infection, contracted MRSA several months later because her infection was not cared for properly, and now, the BOP has reported that she cannot be released due to the CARES Act because of the MRSA,” her attorney Stephanie Kessler wrote in the motion.

The BOP medical hold blocked Dennard’s transfer from prison to a halfway house, Kessler wrote.

But prosecutors wrote in their motion that the BOP had lifted the medical hold on Dennard, which nullifies her complaint.

“Information obtained from BOP indicates that the defendant will be released to a halfway house on or about May 4, 2022, with an ultimate release date of on or about June 12, 2022,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Glatfelter wrote in her motion.

At issue now is whether Dennard will serve the remainder of her sentence at a halfway house, as the BOP has ordered, or at her mother’s home, which Dennard prefers, and how long that sentence will be.

“The defendant appears to be arguing that her grievances with the home confinement decision-making process itself constitute an extraordinary and compelling reason sufficient to justify compassionate release … that argument fails,” Glatfelter wrote.

This story was originally published by WCPO in Cincinnati, Ohio.