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FBI: Attorney Keith Mitchell makes court appearance, is accused in alleged Toledo City Council bribe scheme

Mitchell was out of state when agents tried to serve a warrant Tuesday and was arrested at his residence Wednesday without incident, FBI officials said.

TOLEDO, Ohio — According to the FBI, Toledo attorney Keith Mitchell has been located and made an initial court appearance Wednesday on charges in a bribery and extortion scheme that allegedly involved himself and four Democratic Toledo City Council members.

FBI agents on Tuesday could not locate Mitchell, who was out of state when agents tried to arrest him. He was on vacation in Memphis and said he received a call at 9:27 a.m. from the FBI, which he thought was a joke. He left Memphis at 5-6 p.m. to return to Toledo. He admits to turning off his phone after being contacted by the FBI.  

At his court appearance, Mitchell was granted release Wednesday on a $500,000 unsecured bond. The government wanted Mitchell detained, as they claim he's a flight risk, contacted his co-defendants and turned his phone off to avoid police.

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Charges were filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court accusing Mitchell and council members Yvonne Harper, Larry Sykes, Tyrone Riley and Gary Johnson with extortion and accepting bribes. Harper faces an additional charge of unlawful interstate communications with the intent to extort. 

Mitchell is accused of funneling money to Harper. 

The alleged bribery and extortion scheme was said to encourage soliciting and/or accepting cash, checks, money orders or other things of value from local business owners in exchange for their votes on city council. The FBI investigation took place over the course of about two years. 

The federal charges of bribery and extortion carry maximum penalties of 10 years and 20 years in prison, respectively, according to US Attorney Justin Herdman.

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