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Judge Recuses Himself From Sentencing Convicted City Hall Lobbyist

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Court documents show federal district judge George Smith has recused himself from the case of John Raphael. The city hall lobbyist is scheduled to be sentenced next week for extorting campaign contributions from red-light camera company Redflex and giving them to  elected Columbus city officials, including Mayor Andy Ginther, former City Council President Mike Mentel and former Mayor Michael Coleman. The scheme was intended to help the company acquire and maintain a contract with the city. The FBI is still investigating. Smith has not said why he is stepping aside. Judge Michael Watson is stepping in. Former Redflex executives have pleaded guilty in the case.

Jim has been with WCBE since 1996. Before that he worked as a reporter at another Columbus radio station, and for three newspapers in Southwest Florida.
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