Joey Williams sentenced to 12 months prison: ‘He’s anxious to get on with the rest of his life’

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Joey Williams, who was indicted in April 2019 as part of a Federal Bureau of Investigations corruption probe, was sentenced to 12 months in prison on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Dayton.

Williams received an additional two years of supervision after he is released from prison. Williams will also be confined to his home for the first six months of that supervision.

The former Dayton City Commissioner pleaded guilty to one corruption charge in September 2019. He faced a maximum of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.

“All I want to say is Mr. Williams is glad it’s over and he’s anxious to get on with the rest of his life,” Williams’s attorney Patrick Hanley told WDTN.com following the sentencing. Williams wouldn’t comment.

In 2015, Williams accepted a construction project at his house at a reduced price in exchange for influencing the awarding of city contracts to the same person. A press release from the Southern District Court of Ohio stated Williams accepted $35,000 in free benefits, including cash payments and the construction of a patio at his home.

Friends and family of Williams filled the courtroom where Judge Thomas Rose presided. Rose acknowledged the many letters of support Williams had received from people around the community, including President Emeritus of Sinclair Community College, David Ponitz, who spoke in court on Williams’s behalf.

“I remember coming (to Sinclair) in 1975, and said there were more rabbits than students at the YMCA,” Ponitz said. “We now have 30,000 students. Right now in this building, we’re surrounded by other buildings for Sinclair Community College. Mr. Williams has been a large part of Sinclair becoming a world-class institution. I believe there’s work left in him to help this community.

“Community service is important to him and it needs to be continued.”

Assistant U.S. District Attorney Brent Tabacchi said Williams’s crime itself was worthy of a prison term, but also pushed the need for the court to emphasize what faces government officials who shirk their duties.

“We are facing a crisis in confidence in government,” Tabacchi said. “That didn’t start with Mr. Williams, but conduct like this makes it difficult when the government has to make hard choices. It feeds into conspiracy theories and the legitimacy of people who are actually operating in the public’s best interest.”

Rose juggled Williams’s lack of criminal history as well as his education. He said Williams was not the typical person he saw in his courtroom. Rose said he felt Williams had been contrite since pleading guilty in September.

“Restitution is a bit thing here,” Rose said. “My objective: I need to impose a sentence that meets the goals of sentencing but isn’t more than is necessary. Your statements have meant a lot to the court. I also have to protect the public from possible violations such as this because they are the ones who suffer.”

Hanley asked the court to let Williams serve his sentence at the federal prison in Ashland, Ky., which is located near Dayton. Rose agreed.

Tabacchi told WDTN.com the sentence was fair and balanced. He said the court had to consider balancing competing interests when considering the sentence.

“I don’t think any time you have sentencing it’s easy,” Tabacchi said. “Especially people who are respected and have long histories in this community. That’s balancing calls for, what Congress has called for – what type of crime they’ve committed and who they are as a person. This conduct of public corruption warrants a prison sentence.”

Tabacchi said he hopes the sentence deters people at any level of government from considering corruption.

“It reinforces that whatever role you are in the government sector, whether you are a low-level employee or an elected official, we are keepers of the public trust,” Tabacchi said. “We can’t deviate from that.”

UPDATE: 9:30 a.m.

In a sentencing memorandum filed by the U.S. District Attorney’s Office on Jan. 15, Tabacchi wrote Williams should “receive a custodial sentence,” meaning he should spend time in prison.

“During 2015, defendant Joey Williams used his position as an elected commissioner of the City of Dayton to illegally enrich himself at the expense of this community,” Tabacchi wrote in the sentencing memorandum. “Given the egregious nature of his offense, the requirement to afford just punishment, and the compelling need to deter others from engaging in political corruption in the future, the United States respectfully requests that the Court sentence Mr. Williams to a term of imprisonment.”

Williams, former Ohio State Rep. Clayton Luckie, former Dayton city official RoShawn Winburn and businessman Brian Higgins were indicted in April 2019 as part of a Federal Bureau of Investigations corruption probe. Luckie pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four months in prison. He’s currently fighting his sentence. Higgins and Winburn both pleaded not guilty. Higgins will go to trial on Feb. 18 while Winburn will go to trial on Feb. 24.

Three others were also indicted by the FBI in October – Steve Rauch of Germantown, Joyce Cameron of Trotwood and James Cameron of Trotwood.

Williams was Market President for KeyBank and resigned following his indictment. He was a Dayton City Commissioner until he took the KeyBank position in 2018. His sentencing is scheduled for Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. at U.S. District Court in Dayton. He pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges in Sept. 2019.

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