COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)– Lobbyist John Raphael had no comment as he walked into the federal courthouse Thursday morning before pleading guilty to extortion.
Raphael’s attorney Mike Miller said his client expects to meet with representatives of the U.S. Marshall’s service prior to his court hearing.
Raphael pleaded guilty to charges that he solicited campaign contributions for elected city officials in Columbus from Redflex, the red light camera company, by creating the impression that the money was needed to bribe the city officials. Raphael was the lobbyist for Redflex and helped the company win the city contract in 2005 and assisted the company with contract renewals.
Federal court documents say Raphael collected tens of thousands of dollars from Redflex and then made contributions in his own name to the Franklin County Democratic Party and the Ohio Democratic Party. The funds were then transferred to the campaigns of city officials including City Council President Andrew Ginther.
Ginther has said he was unaware of any contributions coming from Redflex although he has acknowledged soliciting the company for contributions.
The maximum prison sentence for the charges against Raphael is 20 years.
A sentencing hearing is yet to be scheduled.