AP Statehouse Correspondent
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The longest-serving Democrat in the Ohio House is resigning amid allegations he violated state campaign finance law.
Rep. Ron Gerberry of Mahoning County has served 27 years in the Legislature, qualifying him as the dean of the House minority caucus.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien told The Associated Press on Tuesday that a joint investigation by his office, the Mahoning County prosecutor and the state attorney general found that Gerberry submitted campaign finance filings containing false information, among other things.
“During the course of caucus fundraising, steps were taken both with vendors and with the caucus in terms of fundraising that were problematic under the Ohio campaign finance law, resulting in some false reports being filed with the Secretary of State’s office here in Columbus,” O’Brien said.
He said Gerberry was expected to enter a guilty plea to a campaign finance charge in Youngstown — rather than in Columbus — in the next week or so, because it was connected to other findings in an ongoing investigation there. A plea deal that Gerberry is negotiating was first reported by The Vindicator in Youngstown.
A message was left Tuesday at Gerberry’s Statehouse office seeking comment. A resignation letter he submitted to House Speaker Clifford Rosenberger, dated Friday, made no reference to the probe. It listed his last day as Aug. 21.
“I appreciate the opportunities that I have been granted and will always cherish the memories and friendships that I take with me into my private life,” Gerberry wrote.
The House Democratic caucus said in a statement that Gerberry’s peers are reserving judgment as they wait for the legal process to play out while convening a screening panel to fill his seat.
“Reports of campaign finance wrongdoing are deeply concerning to this caucus and this institution,” the statement said. “Obviously, we will look closely at details and facts as they emerge from this situation, but at this time, we need to remain respectful of the legal process in order to have a better understanding and complete picture of what transpired.”
The caucus said Gerberry has “a stunning breadth and depth of institutional knowledge” that has been valuable to legislators in both parties.
Associated Press writer Andrew Welsh-Huggins contributed to this report.