Ohio lawmaker who failed to properly report Bengals tickets pleads guilty to ethics violations



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This undated photo provided by the Ohio House of Representatives shows Democratic state Rep. Sandra Williams. Williams says she is being charged with two misdemeanors related to errors on required financial reports. Williams said Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014 that she’s scheduled to appear in Franklin County court Friday to enter her plea. (AP Photo/HO, Ohio House of Representatives)


FILE-This undated file photo provided by the Ohio House of Representatives shows Rep. Dale Mallory. Mallory, a state lawmaker from Cincinnati, pleaded guilty Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, to two misdemeanor ethics law violations related to taking Bengals tickets from lobbyists then failing to properly report them on required disclosure forms. Mallory, 49, faces up to 7 months in jail and $1,250 in fines on the combined charges, though a Franklin County judge signaled incarceration is unlikely. Mallory, a four-term lawmaker, leaves the Legislature due to term limits at year’s end. (AP Photo/Ohio House of Representatives, File)


COLUMBUS, Ohio — An Ohio state lawmaker from Cincinnati pleaded guilty Wednesday to two misdemeanor ethics law violations related to taking Bengals tickets from lobbyists then failing to properly report them on required disclosure forms.

Democratic state Rep. Dale Mallory faces up to seven months in jail and $1,250 in fines on the combined charges, though a Franklin County judge signaled incarceration is unlikely. His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 11.

The Joint Legislative Ethics Committee referred Mallory, a four-term lawmaker, for prosecution after finding he improperly accepted tickets from payday lending industry lobbyists in 2009 and 2013 that exceeded the $75 gift limit. Charges were previously brought against the lobbyists.

Mallory is the latest lawmaker caught up in an ongoing investigation into influence peddled at the Ohio Statehouse by lobbyists for the payday lending industry. Two other legislators — former Democratic state representatives Clayton Luckie and W. Carlton Weddington — are in prison, and two lobbyists have also been previously charged.

Weddington, who began a 3-year prison sentence in August 2012, will be transported to Columbus on Thursday, where a judge is set to decide his request for early release. The personal appearance signals the likelihood he'll win release. A judge denied a similar request from Luckie in April.

Also Wednesday, a fourth lawmaker appeared caught up in the probe.

Democratic state Rep. Sandra Williams of Cleveland said in a telephone interview that she is being charged with two misdemeanors related to errors on required financial reports. Williams said she's due in court Friday before a Franklin County judge to enter her plea.

The former Ohio Legislative Black Caucus president declined to elaborate on the specifics of the charges or on how she'll plead, referring questions to her attorney, Roger Synenberg. Synenberg did not immediately return an email seeking comment.

Williams said she admits she made mistakes on the forms and apologized for letting down her constituents. She said she and her staff have learned from the experience and won't repeat the errors in the future.

Mallory, 49, said he takes full responsibility for "processing mistakes" that occurred to cause reporting oversights with regard to gifts he took from lobbyists.

"A state legislator relies on the trust of the citizens of Ohio and, while I am disappointed this happened, I assure you we have learned from it," he said in a statement.

His attorney, Mike Allen, said Mallory comes from a long line of public servants who have served with distinction and hopes to continue that work in the future. He departs the Legislature at year's end due to term limits.

A bill cracking down on payday loans — high-interest, short-term loans for small sums — cleared the Ohio House in 2010 over the objections of Mallory and a few other Democrats, mostly urban blacks who argued such loans were a needed resource among their constituents. The bill ultimately failed to clear the Ohio Senate and never became law.

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