According to a fellow city councilman, Bob McCloskey left him an envelope containing $500 on behalf of businessmen opposed to an ordinance clamping down on adult entertainment at Toledo strip clubs.
Wade Kapszukiewicz, the councilman who is now Lucas County treasurer, told the FBI about the 2002 incident last week after federal agents questioned him about it.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz said he found an envelope that he said contained five or more $100 bills on his chair in his City Council office one day after Mr. McCloskey had told him the owners of strip clubs wanted to meet with Mr. Kapszukiewicz about several ordinances he had authored clamping down on sexually oriented businesses.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz said he returned the envelope to Councilman McCloskey.
He said Mr. McCloskey took the money back, saying, "OK, they just want to get to know you."
Mr. Kapszukiewicz in the past had denied to The Blade that the incident took place. But he admitted it yesterday after a Blade reporter asked him about the FBI's inquiry.
Jay Feldstein, Mr. McCloskey's lawyer, said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on an FBI investigation. He did not confirm the existence of the investigation.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Cleveland yesterday refused to confirm or deny an investigation of the incident.
Mr. McCloskey, 60, a Democrat, announced his resignation Wednesday, effective today at 5 p.m., ending 12 years on council. He said the demands of defending himself against criminal and civil litigation has made it impossible to do his job.
A Lucas County grand jury indicted Mr. McCloskey Feb. 10 on two felony bribery counts alleging that he demanded $100,000 for a prescription drug fund for fellow Pilkington Plc retirees in connection with a 2002 zoning application.
Prosecutors said Mr. McCloskey requested money from officials of Pilkington, based in Rossford, and EJS Properties, a Michigan charter-school developer, in exchange for his support for rezoning the former Pilkington research center in East Toledo.
A trial is set to begin May 9.
If convicted, he faces a prison sentence of one to five years and a $10,000 fine on each count. A person convicted of bribery is also barred from holding public office. Mr. McCloskey has pleaded not guilty in that case and remains free on his own recognizance.
Mr. McCloskey is also a defendant in a $10 million civil suit that was filed in 2004 in U.S. District Court in Toledo by EJS Properties stemming from the same circumstances.
And he is under a federal investigation, which included a sting in which he was videotaped accepting money from a businessman to help with a business project, The Blade has previously reported.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz said Mr. McCloskey approached him on behalf of sexually oriented businesses whose owners felt the ordinances would hurt their businesses.
One of the ordinances, which passed Jan. 21, 2003, required a six-foot separation between dancers and patrons, performances on 18-inch-high stages, and a prohibition on patrons and dancers touching intimate body parts.
"I believe he ultimately voted for it, but behind the scenes he was, I think, quietly talking to our colleagues about trying to kill the legislation entirely, or - if it couldn't be killed - to weaken it," Mr. Kapszukiewicz said.
"He'd come to me looking for different ways to weaken the ordinances or water them down. He'd say, 'They're not bad guys, they'd love to meet you.' I'd say, 'I'm not interested,'● " Mr. Kapszukiewicz said yesterday.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz said he consulted with Michael Beazley, then the clerk of City Council and now Lucas County administrator, and then returned the envelope to Mr. McCloskey.
"I said 'Bob, there's two things. First of all I don't want their support. Secondly, this is illegal,' " Mr. Kapszukiewicz said he told fellow Councilman McCloskey.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz said the money appeared to be a contribution for the annual Franklin Delano Roosevelt birthday party political fund-raiser he sponsors every Jan. 30. He said he sends out invitations for $25 tickets about two months early.
Political candidates may accept cash contributions of up to $100 per race, as long as the names and addresses of contributors, and the date of the contribution, are disclosed in public campaign finance reports.
Mr. Beazley said yesterday he was also interviewed by the FBI as was Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken, a former Toledo city councilman. Mr. Beazley said the FBI mistakenly thought that it was Mr. Gerken who had received the envelope from Mr. McCloskey.
He said neither he nor Mr. Kapszukiewicz reported the incident to police because it wasn't a clear-cut violation of the law. He and Mr. Kapszukiewicz said that, while it was not apparent to them at the time, it was possible that Mr. McCloskey intended to identify the cash contributors.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz said that he did not report the incident to law enforcement officials because "it was a gray area."
Mr. McCloskey, in an interview prior to his resignation announcement, denied lobbying any of his colleagues against the ordinances.
"I can't recall talking to anyone about it," Mr. McCloskey said.
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