Cincinnati Police Captain Michael Savard faces federal bribery and theft charges for soliciting a $5,000 bribe from a CPD sergeant, authorities have announced.
Cincinnati Police Chief Eliot Isaac, U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman and IRS Criminal Investigations Special Agent in Charge William Cheung revealed the charges at a news conference today.
According to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court, Savard approached an unnamed CPD sergeant pursuing a promotion to lieutenant with an offer: if the sergeant paid Savard the $5,000, he would retire before the end of the month. That, in turn, would open up the lieutenant position.
CPD promotes based on a list that is compiled from scores on a civil service test. That list was set to expire at the end of this month, meaning the sergeant in question would have had to take the test over again and may not have ended up in the same position on the list.
"If you think about it, if you have somebody who was out there selling a position, if you would pay a certain amount of money to someone from the Cincinnati Police who would guarantee you a certain position, I don't think anyone would question that that is misconduct," Glassman said. "Savard was, in essence, shaking down a sergeant for cash in order to guarantee him a promotion to a higher rank." Savard allegedly indicated to the sergeant that he was aware of the IRS investigation and was hoping to cut a deal with prosecutors.
The sergeant told CPD and federal investigators about the bribery offer late last month and yesterday delivered the money to Savard, who was promptly arrested.
Federal law stipulates that it is a crime to receive $5,000 or more in exchange for affecting the outcome of a public hiring process for an agency that receives more than $10,000 in federal funding.
Isaac batted back the idea that Savard's actions are a usual occurrence within the department.
"Early in my career I would hear chatter about this kind of thing happening," he said. "But the way our current retirement system is structured, with our deferred retirement option, it is extremely unlucrative for anyone to engage in this. It would be extremely rare for this to happen. I believe it is not legally allowable — any exchange of dollars."
If convicted of the allegations against him, Savard could face 10 years in prison. More charges against him could be forthcoming connected to a probe by the IRS' criminal investigation unit that was already underway when the alleged bribery incident took place.
Officials said they can't comment on the details around the preexisting investigation by the IRS, but acknowledged that Savard was suspended from police duties in January in connection with the probe. The affidavit detailing the charges against Savard says only that the investigation is "related to financial benefits received as a result of his employment with the Cincinnati Police Department."
Savard, who is currently on desk duty, makes $113,000 a year. He was promoted to captain in 2017 and last worked with CPD's special services unit. Isaac said that a hearing next week will determine his employment status with the department.