First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus
93 West Weisheimer Road
Columbus, OH 43214-2544

On Friday, April 2, 7:30 PM, Dr. Robert Fitrakis, Editor, The Columbus Free Press, and Professor, Columbus State Community College, will lead a discussion of the film, “Capitalism: A Love Story.” The film will be shown, starting at 7:30PM, with the discussion of the film to follow. The showing and the following discussion are both free and open to the broad Columbus community.

Here are some key facts given emphasis within the film: Ronald Reagan opposed workers’ rights. During the Reagan administration, major corporations laid off tens of thousands of American workers while making enormous profits. “Since 1980, 2 million workers have been cut from the U.S. manufacturing payroll. Millions more have accepted – or been forced to accept – reductions in earnings.” As productivity increased, from 1980 to the
present, working people’s wages remained essentially frozen.

The richest had their taxes cut in half. The top marginal rate decreased from 70% in 1980 to 28% in 1989. Historical marginal tax rate tables are posted on the website of the Tax Policy Center. By 2008, total household debt grew to nearly one hundred percent of the GDP. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis provides data on household
debt and on GDP. The stock market rose enormously from the time of Reagan’s election to the present. CEOs pay increased greatly from the time of Reagan’s election to the present.

According to Fortune magazine, GM made $4.86 billion in profit in 1989, while laying off over 40,000 workers. In Germany, unions help hire and fire the board of directors so the workers have a say in what’s going on.

Shortly before Christmas 2008, Chicago’s Republic Windows and Doors fired its entire unionized workforce of over 250 people, giving them only three days notice, and failing to pay legally required vacation
and severance pay.

Purchasing life insurance policies on non-essential employees is a common corporate practice, one referred to in the insurance industry as “Dead Peasants” insurance. Citigroup’s research department wrote three memos for investors concluding that wealth and power in the U.S. were increasingly concentrated in the hands of the top 1%, stating the top 1% of the population now have more financial wealth than the bottom 95% combined.

New York Times, April 24, 2009: “Although the average person has never heard of it, MERS – short for Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems – holds 60 million mortgages on American homes, through a legal maneuver that has saved banks more than $1 billion over the last decade but made life maddeningly difficult for some troubled homeowners.

The FBI warned of an approaching “epidemic” of mortgage fraud in 2004. CNN, September 17, 2004: “Rampant fraud in the mortgage industry has increased so sharply that the FBI warned Friday of an ‘epidemic’ of financial crimes which, if not curtailed, could become ‘the next S&L crisis.'” The FBI says that 80% of the mortgage fraud was induced by
the banks, not the individuals seeking loans.

Rocky Mountain News: “The FBI report said research indicates that 80 percent of mortgage fraud nationwide ‘involves collaboration or collusion by industry insiders.'”

Again, this film showing is free and open to all. Dr. Fitrakis will discuss the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision affecting the ability of corporations to finance political contests within America. If related information is desired, please contact the Church Office at (614) 296-6304.

With Sincere Regard,

Earl Wurdlow, Facilitator
Community Leaders Forum

Bob Fitrakis
March 26, 2010

Editor’s Note: I received this letter from Da’rryl Miguel Durr who is awaiting execution on Ohio’s death row. The state of Ohio plans to murder him on April 20, 2010. There are questions as to Mr. Durr’s actual guilt. This is nothing new in Ohio.

I received an award for Best Criminal Justice Reporting in Ohio for my investigation into the state’s wrongful execution of John Byrd (See the story in The Fitrakis Files: Free Byrd and Other Cries for Justice in our Online Store). The state of Ohio made similar mistakes in the conviction of John Spirko. Governor Ted Strickland commuted Spirko’s sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole because of “the lack of physical evidence linking him to the murder.” Then-Governor Bob Taft had no problems allowing Byrd to be murdered, despite the lack of physical evidence and he endorsed the political maneuverings of then-Attorney General Betty Montgomery who fought blood and DNA testing requested by Byrd that would have exonerated him. Durr’s case, like Spirko’s and Byrd’s before it, is another clear cut example of inconsistencies in the state’s case. Once again the prosecution is fighting a DNA test as in the Byrd case. When there’s any doubt about the guilt of a condemned prisoner, the state should err on the side of caution. – Bob Fitrakis

Dear Mr. Fitrakis, how is your spirit?

I am an innocent prisoner here on Ohio’s death row. I am writing to you in the hopes that you may be able to help me in much the same way you were able to help John Spirko many years ago by publishing “Justice for John Spirko. Lies…deceit…deception. Ohio Justice System Dirty Little Secrets.”

Let me explain. I have evidence (and believe that the state is withholding other evidence) that if investigated would exonerate me. Here is a brief summary of evidence that exists:

1) Police reports that classmates and school officials reported that the alleged victim Angel Vincent, alive after the date of death. The jury never heard this and no appeals court has seriously considered it.

2) The states own scientific investigator tested blood, saliva, hair and soil samples, as well as fibers, collected from me and found nothing to tie me to the case. Trial lawyers never had this evidence tested to see if it linked anyone else to the crime. Recent DNA tests on slides collected from the body found by police were negative for any biological material from me and the state is fighting further DNA testing on other evidence they have. Their claim is that due to their mishandling of evidence collected, testing revealed no biological evidence that was useful, and what evidence that remains could be contaminated. They also claim that they lost, destroyed or misplaced any other evidence collected in my case. They refuse to look.

3) The defense never checked weather reports, (See State v. Keenan (1993) 66 Ohio St. 3d 402) following statements, made by the states only witness, that it was raining outside on the night of the crime, the alleged crime took place in January the middle of winter and it was snowing then. This would prove, as in Keenan, that events described by the witness could not have happened.

4) The defense never preserved an exculpatory tape with the voice of the states witness confessing to, and apparently planning the crime.

5) During my trial, judge Ralph J. McAllister told my trial lawyers that “I want to see his nigger ass in the chair for messing with white women”. An affidavit by trial lawyer Jerry Milano was ignored by all appeals courts. Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Moyer, in review of this claim, said there was not enough evidence to recuse the judge from my case. Circumstantial evidence is enough to execute a man in Ohio but it is not enough to get a judge recused from a case in which race was an omnipresent factor. I’ve included a copy of one of the articles that appeared in various newspapers around the state about this.

6) The defense never challenged the identity of the body even though the initial coroners report claimed the body was that of an adult between the ages of 25-35. Whereas Angel Vincent was 16 at the time of her disappearance.

7) The state witness had numerous contacts with the police and never claimed to know anything about the crime. She had been the victim of a robbery in Independence, Ohio and spoke to the police yet never claimed a crime had been committed. She gave numerous false addresses during this time.

8) The defense never questioned the states witness concerning statements she made on the stand that indicated she suffered from a mental disorder. during trial she was questioned concerning her threats to kill herself, and her child, if I didn’t come stay with her. She was afraid of being replaced in my life by someone else. She claimed it was because I made her feel like nothing. Shortly after I came to prison, she began to abuse, neglect, and molest her daughter. Later she abandoned her. ~~She has been diagnosed as schizophrenic. Had my lawyers known this at trial, or questioned the mental state of someone threatening to kill herself, I believe it would’ve changed the outcome of the trial.

These are but a few examples. I’ve written various Innocence Project organisations for a while now trying to get someone to investigate my case but it has been to no avail. I hope that you will reply to me in some fashion,

May YAHWEH bless and keep you in His perfect care.

Da’rryl Miguel Durr 207889
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Road
Youngstown, Ohio 44505

Durr State’s MOJ

Lawyer ask Chief Justice to disqualify judge

Letter requesting Clemency Support

Response on Lawyer asking Chief Justice to disqualify judge

The odor of Oddi
by Bob Fitrakis

What do Gary Hart, Bob Packwood, Thomas Ferguson and Franklin County Clerk of Courts Jesse Oddi have in common? Shouldn’t be too hard to figure out.
Next Tuesday, without giving it much thought, Franklin County voters are likely to go to the polls and “Retain Jesse Oddi” for Franklin County Clerk of Courts. Maybe the cry should be to restrain Oddi.

I recently talked with employees from the Clerk of Court’s office, who all march in parades for Jesse, raise money for his campaign, and have Oddi bumper stickers on their autos. The public image these employees present is that of adoring their boss; in reality, they say they’re terrified of losing their jobs if they don’t.

Oddi is portrayed as one of the most despicable public servants imaginable-but not by the competition, by his own employees who say he’s a shakedown artist. Employees claim that their supervisors routinely record how many spaghetti fund-raiser dinner tickets they sell for Oddi or whether the Oddi bumper stickers are on their cars. One employee claims that a supervisor “kept asking me for donations. She said ‘What about your job? You ought to worry about your job.'”

Donna Born, a former supervisor now on medical leave from the Clerk’s office, admits that she “forced them to buy these tickets.”

“Yes, my division had 12 people,” she explains. “We would sell 150-200 tickets at $25 apiece. The employees knew that they had to buy or sell a set amount of tickets. I also forced them to march in parades. We would pass around sign-up sheets on county time and they had to give me a reason if they couldn’t march.”

It is illegal for public employees to engage in partisan political activities while on the government payroll. But according to Oddi’s employees, that may be the least of his sins. Born and others claim they routinely cover for Oddi as he engages in repeated liaisons with female staff members, who are reportedly rewarded with job advancement in exchange for granting sexual favors.

“I covered for him,” Born said. “I’d have to tell his wife Elaine that it was me calling his house [instead of another woman] to report that the alarms went off downtown; it wasn’t true,” she said. Oddi-who displays a fondness for open-collared shirts, gold chains and who supposedly had a plaque in his office that read “Italian Stallion”-has cultivated a close personal relationship with one particular supervisor, according to Born and several other employees. Born claims that some employees who have been there “about six years” are making far more money than long-term employees who aren’t as friendly with Oddi.

As Born explains, “Jesse is a real touchy-feely-type guy. He likes to pat your butt and kiss you, to massage your shoulders and rub your body.” One female employee stated that Oddi would “come and massage my shoulders and run his fingers through my hair.” Another female employee was more blunt: “I knew if I went over and gave Jesse a [sexual favor] he’d give me a raise.”

All employees told tales of catching Oddi with his hands either “up her skirt” or “down her blouse.” When pressed for details, employees point to Oddi’s suite at the Great Southern Hotel as a key place for female employees to negotiate a raise after a dinner at Chutney’s.

Jacqueline Bracken, Oddi’s election opponent, has tried desperately to expose Oddi’s sleaziness and corruption. Oddi’s employees tell a similar tale. Employees report that eight Clerk of Courts employees went to the Dispatch almost four years ago, right before Oddi’s appointment, with similar allegations and documentation. The Big D did nothing, they said. Not surprising; while seemingly obsessed with Judge Deborah O’Neill’s alleged sexual escapades, the big boys at the Daily Monopoly ignore Oddi’s odor as they search for the holy grail of journalism, the truth about O’Neill’s “panties.”

Indeed, on Saturday, in another apparent attempt to run Judge O’Neill out of office, the Dispatch put her photo on page one with a story claiming she’d done something wrong by allowing blacks into a jury pool. The Dispatch’s O’Neill fetish kicked the possible Jerry Hessler “mistrial” story to page two, sans photo.

The accounts of Oddi’s misdeeds don’t stop here. One long-time law-enforcement source calls Oddi the “county’s premier fixer.” All employees questioned by Alive report that documents are routinely “backdated” in Oddi’s office, and that Oddi can make legal files “completely disappear.” Think about it: Jesse Oddi, Clerk of Courts, is the man in charge of all the court documents in Franklin County. Bracken says it’s not easy to run against somebody who has the open reputation for being able to make a drunk-driving charge, for instance, disappear. Two employees claim that the system is designed not only to destroy the physical file but the corresponding microfilm as well.

If Jesse Oddi is elected Clerk of Courts in Franklin County, citizens here owe Palmer McNeal an apology. McNeal, a former county auditor run out of office by the Wolfe Family Newsletter for a minor misuse of his county credit card, is a mere peon compared to the “Italian Stallion.” Ferguson and Packwood-pikers. Gary Hart-bush-league lecher.

All hail Jesse Oddi. The little stud that could.


by Bob Fitrakis

Every 30 years or so, the American Left recreates itself: the Communists and Socialists of the 1930s’ “Red Decade” later became the decentralized, radical Students for a Democratic Society and New Left of the 1960s. And it looks like it’s the multiculturalism and direct action of Anti-Racist Action (ARA) for the ’90s.

The program for the ARA’s Third Annual Conference, held last weekend, screamed: “Do Something!” It had a photo of an activist taking a swing at a bloated, pot-bellied, berobed, coneheaded Klansman. Entering the old North High School, where the ARA conference was held, I got the sense that something was indeed happening here. Grizzled veterans of ’60s and ’70s anti-war and anti-imperialist movements mingled freely with the next New Left. Before the weekend was over, I had attended workshops on racism and fascism, marched and been Maced at-and been cited as the leader of-a demonstration against police brutality. Welcome to activism ’90s style.

At the opening of the conference Friday night, the mostly “straight-edge” Generation X participants-wearing “Fuck Racism” T-shirts, the “Mean People Suck” slogan taken to its logical extreme-exuded an aura that made the Weathermen look like the Brady Brunch. But, how much was posing and posturing? This new generation of anti-racist militants has grown up knowing no movement victories. The Civil Rights movement-which brought the end of legalized apartheid in America in 1965-is ancient history. The anti-war struggle is like those war stories that the World War II GIs used to tell their kids and grandkids in the ’50s.

This new breed of activists has done battle in the cities, suburbs and small towns of North America against the rising tide of neo-fascists and neo-Nazis ushered in by the rhetoric of the Reagan and Bush eras and the infamous political “wedge issues” of immigrant and welfare-mother bashing, a tide not quelled by the hollow promises of President Clinton’s law-and-order-centrist policies.

And this is true not only for the Americans present, but for the large Canadian contingent as well. The dozens of ARA members from Toronto are hardened by their ongoing battle with white supremacists in the Great White North. Toronto is the home of Ernest Zundel, a key player in the international Nazi movement. From his fortress at 206 Carlton, Zundel runs Samisdat Publishing, one of the largest Nazi propaganda operations on the planet. His chief goal is to deny the Holocaust, producing such publications as: “Did Six Million Really Die?” and “The Hitler We Loved And Why.”

Canadian courts have dismissed Holocaust denial charges against Zundel, instead characterizing his work as concerning “ethnic conflict between Germans and Jews.” Yeah, and those death camp ovens were used for making bagels. Zundel’s racist skinhead (“bonehead”) followers revere him as a hero and chant, “Six million more!”

But like the conference cover photo depicts, when government action fails in Canada, this new breed of anti-fascist activist is willing to use other means: Zundel’s property was recently torched. Shedding light on the rise of the American Religious Right on the conference’s opening night was an old friend of mine from Detroit, Russ Bellant. His new book, The Religious Right in Michigan Politics, is the first to investigate and document the origins and objectives of the popular group the Promise Keepers (PK). Many are familiar with former University of Colorado football coach Bill McCartney’s original 1990 vision: to fill a stadium with Christian men willing to “reclaim” authority from their wives, capitalizing on the male backlash against the women’s movement and the gender-bashing so prominent now on talk radio.

As Bellant explained, the vast majority of men of various denominations that attend these PK rallies come with good and sincere intentions. I know, my older brother Nick and my younger brother Dave, both plagued by marital problems, now call themselves Promise Keepers. Bellant pointed out how McCartney, while serving as assistant football coach at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, “encountered and was deeply influenced by the Word of God (WOG) Community.” WOG, according to Bellant, practices a “shepherding/discipleship” form of worship that requires total submission to a person called “the head.” He calls Promise Keepers’ views fundamentally “anti-democratic” and potentially “totalitarian” in nature.

“The use of sophisticated lighting and sound in a stadium setting, psychologically playing on people’s emotions, breaking down the denominational differences, and merging nationalism and religion really echoes the Nazi rallies of the Third Reich,” Bellant argued. Bellant demonstrated how virtually all top Christian Right leaders-Pat Robertson of the Christian Coalition, D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministry, and Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ-have signed on to the Promise Keepers. The “family values” rhetoric and homophobia are part of a larger “cultural revolution” the PKs hope to bring about. Robertson, Kennedy and Bright, along with James Dodson-the author of Promise Keepers Manifesto, Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper-are all members of the super-secretive radical right Council for National Policy (CNP), according to Bellant.

“The Council for National Policy is not an organization most of you have heard of. Unlike the Christian Coalition, the Council wants to keep itself secret. The Council was created by business and political leaders who were also leaders in the John Birch Society. Its membership includes former Indiana Ku Klux Klan leader Richard Shoff, Jerry Falwell, TV censor Don Wildman, anti-ERA activist Phyllis Schlafly, a handful of pro-apartheid activists and registered agents for the old South African regime, and leaders of the Unification (Moonies) Church,” detailed Bellant.

The CNP members represent the political elite of the radical right and essentially they plan and fund the major projects of the American Right, in Bellant’s analysis. The big bucks come from Jeff Coors and family members of Coors Brewing Company, Linda Bean of L.L. Bean, and Richard DeVos Jr. of Amway and Texas oilman Nelson Bunker Hunt.

“While they appeal to black members, their real agenda is to destroy affirmative action, and they have links to white supremacist ideology,” Bellant concluded.

Surviving a radical demo

Activists attended Saturday sessions such as “Leonard Peltier/Political Prisoners”; “Black-Jewish Relations”; “Lesbian and Gay Oppression”; and the essential “Surviving Radical Demos” to name a few. Having attended, participated, organized and covered literally hundreds of protests and demonstrations in my life, I thought I knew how to survive a radical demo in the mid-’90s. To err is human…

I was asked to bring my portable PA system to the conference at 6 p.m. Saturday for the “Copwatch Rally & March.” No big deal, just another case of journalistic participant-observer in the alternative press. Soon I was wondering who was organizing the event. When I arrived at the kickoff point at Arcadia and High, security guru Chris “The Anarchist” handed me a mike and asked me to speak. “About what?” I queried. “You know, about why we’re marching.” Luckily I was saved by a Columbus Copwatch member who politely asked the gathering horde of Klan and Nazi fighters “to remember that your actions will have repercussions on us in this community.” Virtually all got the message: Give peace a chance tonight.

I briefly addressed the assembled. Having a Ph.D in political science, I knew to announce the intent of the march to the estimated 10 percent that were no doubt undercover cops: “We intend this march to be a lawful demonstration, to protest police brutality and walk the streets of America without fear of the police…” I said more about the Antioch students being beaten at the Federal Building, and the TV4 footage showing the brutalization of students on 12th Avenue, but my main mission had been accomplished: protecting myself from “inciting a riot” charges. Wise move.

A small contingent of anarchists from the “Love and Rage” group unfurled a red-and-black flag. Banners were held with slogans reading “No Police Brutality” and “No Nazis, No Killer Cops, No Fascist USA, Anti-Racist Action.” Appropriate slogans for the 20-something generation whose educational benefits have been cut while government prison spending has been quadrupled.

Other marchers lit torches-lawful, but virtually unheard of in Columbus-creating an eerie and disturbing mood. These weren’t drunken freshmen frat boys reveling in a football victory frenzy. We crossed High Street and more than a hundred people began marching south.

Police squad cars with lights flashing immediately began to “escort” the marchers. They persisted, despite our insistence that we knew our way to 12th Avenue. And as a police helicopter began to hover overhead, I heard an unfamiliar chant: “Aim high, pigs in the sky!”

Just before Blake, in front of the Radio Shack and 24-hour video store, shit happened. Stuck hauling the PA system, I heard a scuffle and turned to see a weird scene. My mind at first rejected it: there was a female police officer without riot gear, attempting to arrest a male marcher. He had his hands raised out to his sides and she was screaming and pulling on his arm. Someone was pulling on his other arm, a literal tug-of-war. Someone in the crowd was yelling “Fuck the pigs!” Seems one Jason Robert Maffettone, 27, of Hoboken, New Jersey had stepped off the curb in Columbus, “jaywalkers gulch.” Omigod.

Officer Julie Appenzeller, sworn to serve and protect the people of Columbus from all jaywalkers, foreign and domestic, was just doing her job. Startled and disbelieving male officers stood by their gal as the crowd and I shouted “No police brutality! Let him go!” The infamous “Have Mace-will spray you” Columbus cops drew their black cans. When you’re chanting into a mike, you can’t always pay attention when someone’s aiming at your big round head. Just my luck. I met up with Officer Generic Cop, 6’1″ with black hair and a mustache, who of course finished first at the police academy in Mace target shooting. I didn’t actually see the Mace; I felt it when it drenched my eyes. For 10 to 15 seconds I was really mad. This asshole clearly hadn’t read the U.S. Constitution, nor Columbus police procedure on Macing. He’d flunk my American Guv class. Moot point as my eyes began to burn, lungs sear, and nose clog up. Still, chanting into a mike on a sidewalk does not constitute menacing a police officer.

Let’s see, five minutes into an anti-police brutality march and I’ve been Maced. Go figure. I pride myself on never getting Maced. I hadn’t been Maced since the day after the Klan killed civil rights marchers in Greensboro, North Carolina. My mind raced. When was that? 1979? ’80? Anyway, it was probably tear gas. Or was it pepper gas at Kent State in ’78?

Deja vu all over again. I was on my knees choking and crawling, my Columbus tax dollars at work again. Being the brave journalist that I am, I thought I’d best crawl into the video store to wash out my eyes. Luckily my alternative press fame had preceded me. The clerk greeted me with a cheery: “Hi Bob!” The Earl Smith-Jim Karnes debate over porno shops aside, it seems the only restroom was in the Triple X adult section of the store. Half-blinded but still able to make out the images of assorted sex toys, I made my way to the counter. “Bathroom,” I pleaded. The clerk had seen it all before. “Honest, I’ve got Mace in my eyes. It’s not a Pee Wee Herman thing.” He advised, “Just ride it out. The water will only make it worse.” A voice of authority.

Outside, things had calmed down and I found myself at the end of the march. Fortunately, one young ARA activist was carrying a squirt tube of Bausch and Lomb sensitive eye contact lens cleaner. “It’ll work, dude. Like, I sprayed myself with some Mace and tested it.” It was like a miracle. No Columbus activist should leave home without it.

Freed of the speaker system, now safely stashed at an ARA safe house on High Street thanks to Chris “The Anarchist,” I moved to the front of the march. There I met 30 or so police in riot gear, and reporters from the Columbus Dispatch, TV4 and 10.

I had a new goal. Keep from getting Maced again. Tensions mounted as the marchers, now swelled to nearly 300, found themselves pinned against a construction fence in the middle of the campus. Would the police attack? Undoubtedly, they were wondering the same about us. Instead of confronting the police, we found an opening at the Wexner Center and snaked through the campus. Thank God for secular humanist bastions of liberalism. One lone campus police car escorted us several blocks back to High Street. We figured the campus cops were unlikely to Mace us, but they might order us to do a big group hug.

The moment of truth. Should we walk down 12th Avenue? What the hell, it’s still America, why not? The march ended almost without incident as we re-emerged at 15th and High and gathered in the open space in front of the Wexner Center.

Just before the end of the march, a lone police commander joined the marchers. The word went out that he was looking for Fitrakis. No doubt, I thought, to congratulate me for my fine work in averting a riot. Wrong again. The first tip off was when he wouldn’t shake my hand. And then his first words stung like the Mace: “I’m Commander Marcum. Why are you writing those lies about me?”

How the hell was I to know he’d been reassigned from supervisor of Police Intelligence to riot patrol at OSU? And anyway, those tips about his family’s links to gambling in last week’s Alive were from my most reliable law enforcement sources. I asked him what the real story was, but he wouldn’t tell me. “Your paper’s printing lies.” Later that night the police reported that no Mace was used on the demonstrators.

The next day’s Dispatch reported that I “led” the rally. I didn’t mean to, but as my old marching buddy Mark Stansbery explained it, “There really was no leadership. And after Bob got Maced, he was really pissed.”

The ARA doesn’t really have leaders. It’s a new movement of leaderless resistance to police brutality and the prison industrial complex.

The Dispatch also reported the post-Macing chant as: “Police brutality, we’re sick and…tired of it.” Insert “fuckin'” where the ellipse is. That’s the mood of these young ARA activists. America is incubating a whole new generation of hard-core fascist-fighters that are sick and tired. “And tired of being sick and tired.” They’re not the Promise Keepers, but they are the product of America’s broken promises and dreams.

see recent update:

The Shapiro murder file
Police accidently release a report linking
Leslie Wexner and the Mob
by Bob Fitrakis

The ghost of Arthur Shapiro—a prominent local attorney who was slain in a 1985 “mob-style murder”—continues to haunt the City of Columbus. Shapiro’s doomed soul was resurrected recently when the Columbus Division of Police released the controversial—and once believed destroyed—document investigating his death.

Columbus Alive obtained a copy of the “Shapiro Homicide Investigation: Analysis and Hypothesis” report through a public records request on Friday. As previously reported in Alive, the report confirms that the name of central Ohio billionaire Leslie Wexner was linked “with associates reputed to be organized crime figures.” The names of businessman Jack Kessler, former Columbus City Council President and current Wexner associate Jerry Hammond and current City Council member Les Wright also appear in the report.

The ghost of Arthur Shapiro—a prominent local attorney who was slain in a 1985 “mob-style murder”—continues to haunt the City of Columbus. Shapiro’s doomed soul was resurrected recently when the Columbus Division of Police released the controversial—and once believed destroyed—document investigating his death.

Columbus Alive obtained a copy of the “Shapiro Homicide Investigation: Analysis and Hypothesis” report through a public records request on Friday. As previously reported in Alive, the report confirms that the name of central Ohio billionaire Leslie Wexner was linked “with associates reputed to be organized crime figures.” The names of businessman Jack Kessler, former Columbus City Council President and current Wexner associate Jerry Hammond and current City Council member Les Wright also appear in the report.

In June 1991, the document’s potentially explosive revelations caused Columbus Police Chief James G. Jackson to order the public record destroyed the same month it was completed. When confronted by Channel 4 News with the document last week, Jackson said, “I thought I got rid of it.” He termed the report “scandalous.”

Another high-ranking law enforcement official familiar with the Shapiro investigation disagrees. “The report is a viable and valuable document in an open murder investigation, although it’s a horrible mistake to make it public,” the official said last week.

City Attorney Janet Jackson called Columbus Alive Tuesday and confirmed that the unredacted document was accidentally released to Alive in response to our public-information request. The report “was released quite frankly in error,” Jackson said, adding that publication of its details could be “very embarrassing” to many people.

In response to a request to Police Chief James Jackson for comment on the release of the file, Sherry Jones of the Columbus Division of Police said Monday, “The chief has no comment.”

In 1996, following a mayoral investigation of Chief Jackson and other top police officers, the Columbus Civil Service Commission found Jackson guilty of destroying the Shapiro report. He received a five-day suspension for the destruction of a public record and another charge of showing favoritism in the discipline of Commander Walter Burns.

Elizabeth A. Leupp, an analyst with Columbus police’s Organized Crime Bureau, began researching and writing the report in early 1991. She sent the report to Intelligence Bureau Commander Curtis K. Marcum on June 6, 1991. Sources say the report remained “hidden” until Jackson ordered its destruction. Marcum bypassed the police legal bureau in carrying out Jackson’s order, according to the mayoral investigative team.

This team, initiated by Safety Director Thomas W. Rice Sr., and under the direction of Assistant Safety Director David D. Sturtz, stumbled on to the destruction of the Shapiro report while investigating missing documents relating to escort services and prostitution. A ledger seized from Marcum’s office contained a reference to Jackson’s order to destroy the report. Reportedly, the only reason the document still exists is because Deputy Chief Robert Kern gave a copy to the Columbus FBI office.

Following the sensational mob-style slaying of Shapiro on March 6, 1985, the report noted that “an analytical project” was started “because of the strong similarities between this homicide and a Mafia (L.C.N.) [La Cosa Nostra] ‘hit.’”

Shapiro was a partner in the now-defunct Columbus law firm of Schwartz, Shapiro, Kelm & Warren. The firm “represented the Limited,” according to the report, and “prior to his death, Arthur Shapiro managed this account for the law firm.” Homicide squad investigators described Shapiro as “a quiet, shy, private, secretive person” who “tended to be a ‘loner.’”

Just prior to his murder, Shapiro “was the subject of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service because he had failed to file income tax returns for some seven years prior to his death, and he had invested in some questionable tax shelters,” the report stated. His death “occurred one day prior to Shapiro’s scheduled appearance before a Grand Jury in the I.R.S. investigation, and there was some conjecture that Shapiro was in position to provide information to the Grand Jury that would have been damaging to some other party.”

Who wanted Shapiro killed and why remains a mystery to Columbus police.

“Thus, while the motive remains unclear, the suspect is an individual who (a) knew Shapiro and had some personal/professional contact with him; (b) would benefit from his death or from ensuring his silence; (c) had close contact with L.C.N. figures or trusted L.C.N. associates; (d) had the personal financial resources to afford the cost of the contract (‘hit’),” reads Leupp’s analysis in the report.

The Shapiro report relied on information from Columbus Police Intelligence summaries, reports from the Organized Crime Bureau, information from both the Pennsylvania Crime Commission and the New Jersey Crime Commission, major media news reports and intelligence data from MAGLOCLEN—a law-enforcement data bank that gathers and verifies reports on organized crime.

The report analyzed “unusual interactive relations between the following business organizations” and then listed: the Major Chord Jazz Club, in which Jerry Hammond was a prinicipal; The Limited; Walsh Trucking Company; the re-named Schwartz, Kelm, Warren and Rubenstein law firm; Omni Oil Company; the Edward DeBartolo Company of Youngstown, Ohio; and local developer John W. Kessler.

Wexner’s business “relations” with Francis J. Walsh, the owner and chief executive officer of Walsh Trucking Company out of New Jersey, were explored. Alive found that a Limited spokesperson told Women’s Wear Daily in the July 25, 1987 issue that “Walsh has done an excess of 90 percent of the Limited’s” trucking business around the time of Shapiro’s murder. The spokesperson estimated that the current figure was “30 to 35 percent of the Limited’s business.” The Limited, Inc. was described as “Walsh’s single largest customer.”

In July 1984 the New York Department of Law Organized Crime Task Force issued a subpoena for Walsh’s bank records. National Westminster Bank of New York, in response to the subpoena, notified Frank Walsh Financial Resources Company. “The notice was addressed to Frank Walsh Financial Resources at One Limited Parkway”—the address of The Limited.

“Both [Youngstown real estate developer Edward J.] DeBartolo and Walsh have been identified as associates of the Genovese-LaRocca crime family in Pittsburgh (now called simply the Pittsburgh Family),” the police report states.

As Columbus Alive previously reported, Walsh Trucking Company was incorporated in the state of New Jersey in May 1973 and has had a controversial business history. In August 1984, a federal jury ordered Walsh Trucking to pay $39.6 million to a smaller competitor that had sued, claiming that Walsh sabotaged its business in New York City’s garment district and destroyed its truck routes. The jury found Walsh Trucking guilty of conspiring to monopolize apparel shipping. In 1987, a U.S. Appeals Court overturned the verdict.

In 1988, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Walsh was charged with making “illegal pay-offs to reported mob figures and officials of Teamster Local 560 which had been under judicial control in an effort to rid it from mob influence.” The May 16, 1988 indictment drew media interest when it named as “unindicted co-conspirators” convicted Genovese crime family boss Anthony “Fat Tony” Salerno, alleged crime family captain Matthew “Matty the Horse” Ianniello and three former officials of Local 560—the Provenzano brothers, Anthony, Nunzio, and Salvatore. The Provenzanos, alleged mobsters, have been convicted of various charges in the past and linked in media accounts to the murder of former Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa.

“DeBartolo and Walsh were still considered associates of the Genovese/LaRocca crime family, and Walsh was still providing truck transportation for The Limited,” in 1990, the report stated.

In 1984, DeBartolo and Wexner were partners in a two-month takeover war against Carter-Hawley-Hale stores, the largest West Coast retailer and owner of the prestigious Nieman-Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman stores. Two-and-a-half years later, in November 1986, The Limited and the Edward J. DeBartolo Corporation again attempted a hostile takeover of Carter-Hawley-Hale stores with a $1.8 billion cash offer.

The New York Times described the DeBartolo Corporation as “the nation’s largest developer of shopping centers.” The Times referred to Wexner as the “restless, aggressive chairman” of The Limited. Forbes magazine estimated Wexner’s personal fortune at $2.7 billion in 1987, stating, “On paper, at least, he is one of the dozen richest people in America.”

A 1989 New York Times article described “the DeBartolo organization” as a company that “develops shopping malls and owns sports enterprises ranging from the San Francisco 49ers and the Pittsburgh Penguins to small tracks in Louisiana and Ohio.” In September 1990, Edward DeBartolo Jr. was fined $500,000 by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, according to the Los Angeles Times, “for transferring ownership of the team to Edward DeBartolo’s Corporation without league approval three years ago.”

DeBartolo Jr. made national news late last year when he resigned as chairman and chief executive officer of the 49ers on December 2, 1997 because he was the subject of a federal grand jury hearing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on charges of gambling fraud. DeBartolo bought the 49ers for a reported $17 million in 1977, becoming the youngest NFL owner at age 30. The Rocky Mountain News reported on April 2 this year that DeBartolo was negotiating a deal subject to NFL approval whereby he “would gain full ownership of the franchise in return for giving up his share in the family-Edward DeBartolo Corporation.”

Leupp concluded, “From the predicate facts presented, it appears that Les Wexner had established contact with associates reputed to be organized crime figures, one of whom was a major investment partner and another was using The Limited headquarters as a mailing address.”

“It is not known whether there are other such figures among Wexner’s associates, but it can be hypothesized that the Genovese/LaRocca crime families might consider Wexner a friend,” Leupp speculated.

The Shapiro report noted that “the primary illegal activity of the LaRocca family is gambling…. Its operation extends into the West Virginia panhandle and eastern Ohio. The family has also become well entrenched in legitimate businesses. These include, but probably are not limited to, construction, trucking, food service and vending businesses.” At the time the report was written, the Genovese crime family was considered “second in strength, power, and wealth to the Gambino LCN family.”

A 1991 report by the Pennsylvania Crime Commission assessed that the Genovese/LaRocca network “appears to be strong and capable of continued growth throughout another decade. It has asserted itself as the primary crime group in the [Pittsburgh] area and, by becoming more active in narcotics, has demonstrated its ability to be a full-service criminal organization.”

While investigating the Shapiro homicide, Leupp probed the relationship between the former City Council president and Les Wexner: “Like Arthur Shapiro was, Wexner is considered a very secretive, very private person, and little is known about his business transactions that might raise questions of ethics and legality. For example, while it cannot be proved, it is hypothesized that W & K Partnership was an investment of Wexner and Kessler in Jerry Hammond’s Jazz Club hoping to influence favorable zoning and annexation considerations for ‘Wexley.’”

Sources close to the Shapiro investigation report that early on, investigators wondered whether or not Shapiro had been involved in the preliminary stages of Wexner’s New Albany development project.

John W. “Jack” Kessler co-founded the New Albany Company with Wexner. The Cleveland Plain Dealer explained the genesis of the New Albany project in a February 21, 1993 article: “Legend has it that in 1986 or so, Jack and Les were cruising in Les’ Land Rover near New Albany, about 12 miles from downtown Columbus. They saw acre after acre of empty farmland. Virgin soil. And thus the billionaire, getting a vision thing, declared to his buddy, this will be my new home.” This account places the New Albany project just after Shapiro’s murder.

The politically controversial New Albany project initially involved a tremendous amount of secrecy. As the Plain Dealer explained, “Wexner and Kessler formed the New Albany Co. and spun off a bunch of paper corporations to cover their footprints. Then their minions knocked on doors and made the proverbial offers you couldn’t refuse.”

One of the keys to the development’s success was changing a Columbus policy dating from the 1950s that refused to extend water and sewage contracts to such developments unless they were annexed into the City of Columbus.

The Shapiro report noted that “SNJC Holding, Inc. is named as an investor in the [Major Chord] Jazz Club. It was incorporated August 6, 1987 by James H. Balthaser, attorney with Schwartz, Kelm, Warren and Rubenstein. This law firm was/is legal counsel for The Limited.” SNJC Holding shared Suite 3710 at the Huntington Center with the Wexner Investment Company.

“It was reported that Jerry Hammond purchased Suite 405 in Waterford Tower in August 1988, and there was some question of whether Mr. Hammond’s income at the time would support the mortgage payments. Within the next 18 to 24 months, Mr. Hammond left his position with City Council and with the gas company and the jazz club closed,” Leupp observed.

Contacted for comment on the report Monday, Hammond gave the terse response, “Don’t know anything about it.”

Leupp’s report stated that “Arthur Shapiro was reportedly in direct contact with Vice-Chairman Robert Morosky (‘Number Two’) at the Limited.” And that in June 1987, Morosky “abruptly and inexplicably left his employment with The Limited amid rumors of friction with Les Wexner.” Details of the Morosky-Wexner break-up were covered in the September 1987 Columbus Monthly.

The Shapiro report raises significant questions concerning the business practices of Ohio’s wealthiest citizen, Les Wexner, particularly his association with alleged organized crime associates. As Leupp noted, “While there is no question of ethics or legality on the surface, it is noted that some business organizations and individuals have co-located and become submerged without merging with Wexner and his varied business interests. Most notably is Stanley Schwartz and the large Schwartz, Kelm, Warren and Rubenstein law firm.”

Alive called Wexner’s spokesperson, Al Dietzel, four times for comment about the allegations raised in the police report. After initially offering a phone interview at a specific time Tuesday, Limited spokesman James Temple later said that Dietzel would not be available for comment.

Chief Jackson, under oath during the mayoral investigation, at first couldn’t recall any order to destroy the Shapiro file. Later, when confronted with the ledger and other evidence, both Jackson and his attorney Bill Wilkinson claimed that he destroyed the public document because the chief said it contained bizarre and half-baked theories implicating prominent people that would expose the city to possibly billions of dollars in damages if the document ever became public.

That’s one hypothesis.

The Shapiro report has its own “concluding hypothesis.” Leupp wrote: “Arthur Shapiro could have answered too many of these sorts of questions, and might have been forced to answer them in his impending Grand Jury hearing; Stanley Schwartz might now be able to answer some of the same questions for the same reason, but does not face a Grand Jury, is immersed in the pattern himself, and now has a powerful incentive to maintain discretion.”

Schwartz has since passed away and his law firm closed. Attorney James Balthaser found employment at Thompson, Hine and Flory, the same firm that employs Jackson’s lawyer, Wilkinson.

One of the recommendations made by the mayoral investigation team into the practices of the police department was that Chief Jackson should reconstruct the “Shapiro Homicide Investigation: Analysis and Hypothesis” report. With the report now public, Jackson needn’t worry about this recommendation. The Shapiro murder remains unsolved.

Bob Fitrakis
March 6, 2010

The specter of Arthur Shapiro continues to haunt Columbus, Ohio. A partner in the prominent Columbus law firm Schwartz, Shapiro, Kelm, and Warren that represented transnational corporations like The Limited, Shapiro took two bullets in the head 25 years ago in a Mob-style slaying.

Columbus’ daily monopoly, owned by the conservative Wolfe family, ran a bizarre front page Metro section article entitled: “25-year-old killing still puzzles.” The intent of the Dispatch’s article is clear by the second paragraph: “Twenty-five years later, the slaying remains unsolved, but investigators point to the same man they suspected from the beginning.”

The paper points its finger at the late Berry L. Kessler who died while incarcerated in 2005. The fact that the late sheriff of Franklin County Earl Smith had other more distinguished suspects, as did the state’s former inspector general, a former city of Columbus safety director, as well as sources in the FBI and IRS, eludes the self-proclaimed “Ohio’s Greatest Home Newspaper.”

The Dispatch, in classic cover-up single sourcing, relies solely on the word of Columbus police detective James McCoskey. He told the paper that in investigating Kessler during the Shapiro homicide investigation he found “…a connection, but nothing we could take to court.” Twenty-five years to the day Shapiro was murdered, the Dispatch runs this quote as if it was a new and startling revelation.

So without any new evidence, why would the Columbus Dispatch dig up the old story? In January, CICJ Books published a collection of investigative pieces entitled “Cops, Cover-ups and Corruption” that I wrote while I was a reporter at the Columbus Alive between 1996-2002. In the collection is an award-winning story “The Shapiro Murder File.” The article won a national award for linking a few of Ohio’s most well-known business people to organized crime through a file that had been destroyed by the then-Columbus chief of police, James Jackson.

The Dispatch has since bought up the Alive, ending its brief reign as Ohio’s only muck-raking newspaper. They also eliminated all of the investigative articles that myself and other reporters like Harvey Wasserman wrote from the Alive website. Perhaps there was not enough room on the computer to maintain the copy.

Chief Jackson was charged in 1996 for “improper disposal of a public record for ordering the destruction of a report on the Shapiro homicide,” according to the Dispatch. What they did not write is the more obvious. Columbus’ chief of police destroyed documents pertaining to an ongoing and unsolved Mob-style slaying of a prominent individual tied to central Ohio’s only billionaire – Les Wexner.

The Dispatch’s key paragraph reads as follows: “The Civil Service Commission eventually upheld the charge against Jackson, who said the report was so filled with wild speculation about prominent business leaders that it was potentially libelous.”

The Dispatch pretty much leaves it at that. An unredacted copy of the Shapiro file obtained by the Alive analyzed “unusual interactive relations between the following business organizations” and then listed, among others, The Limited; Walsh Trucking Company; the renamed Schwartz, Kelm, Warren, and Rubenstein Law Firm; Omni Oil Company; the Eddie DeBartolo Company of Youngstown, Ohio; and local developer John W. Kessler.

Jackson destroyed the Shapiro murder file not because of “wild speculation” but because of a detailed analysis linking two of Ohio’s richest men, DeBartolo and Wexner, to the Genovese/LaRocca organized crime families. A similar news story appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1988.

The Dispatch, in dismissing the detailed Shapiro murder file report, writes that the document “…speculated that millionaire businessmen in Columbus and Youngstown were linked to the ‘mob-style murder.’ The truth, police investigators say was less complicated.”

The paper only cites one police source: McCosky. It attempts to masquerade Wexner as a “millionaire” when he’s the capital city’s only billionaire, and they refuse to name the well-known DeBartolo family of Youngstown.

One can only wonder why the Wolfe family of Columbus and their paid minions at their daily newsletter are so interested in discrediting perhaps the most important public record in the recent history of Columbus – one that shows real connections between powerful individuals, companies and an organized crime family.

The facts are less complicated. The Columbus Dispatch is covering up for its wealthy friends as it always does.

Bob Fitrakis is the author of six books in The Fitrakis Files series. Cops, Coverups and Corruption can be purchased from the in the Online Store. Originally published by

By Bob Fitrakis

Finally! The Columbus area ministers who filed a complaint to revoke the non-profit status of the secretive “Family” are to be congratulated. “The Family,” founded in 1935, has a public agenda of promoting “prayer breakfast groups” but their real agenda has always appeared to be preying, not praying. The non-profit behind “The Family” is the Fellowship Foundation. It’s 501(c)(3) mission statement reads: “To develop and maintain an informal association of people banded together, to go out as ‘ambassadors of reconciliation’ modeling the principles of Jesus, based on loving God and loving others.”

At least they’re not hypocrites. At the notorious swinging pad known as the C Street house at 133 C Street, Washington D.C., owned by the Family, U.S. representatives and senators practice their mission of “loving others.” They rent rooms for a reported $600 per month where they stay as “short-term” guests. Most recently one of their Christian brethren, former Congressman and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, was caught up in a highly publicized affair with an Argentinian woman. Also, last year, Congressman Chip Pickering’s wife sued him for divorce, alleging he had an affair “…while living in the well-known C Street complex in Washington D.C.” In June 2009, long-time guest at the C Street complex, Senator John Ensign, also admitted to an extra-marital affair.

In this former convent, once belonging to St. Peter’s Church, members can practice Christian love with foreign and domestic booty. Ensign’s affair was with his former campaign treasurer and the wife of his co-Chief of Staff, Doug Hampton. Although Hampton probably saw it coming, since he was a friend and fellow Family worshipper.

The preference for keeping it “all in the Family” is part of the 10-page complaint filed by the Columbus pastors. The complaint claims that “an exclusive residential club for powerful officials may be masquerading as a church.” The complaint goes on to argue that the activities at the C Street complex “are shrouded in secrecy. Its powerful residents reportedly adhere to a code of silence….This lack of transparency shows a disdain for the political, legislative, and economic accountability that defined constitutional democracy.”

Nothing really new here. Think about the bizarre behavior of Rev. Moon and his crazy Christian Moonies who were tied to the Koreagate sex scandals in the mid-1970s. All of this is documented in the Fraser Committee Report issued in November 1977. It found that the “Moon organization was being used a political tool on behalf of the Korean CIA to influence U.S. politics.” The Moon organization emerged in Ohio politics when they provided key volunteers and resources in John Kasich’s first Congressional victory in 1982.

Investigative reporter Wayne Madsen refers to the Family as “the ‘Christian’ Mafia.” A good starting point for background information is Madsen’s “The Cedars if Arlington” found online at the Wayne Madsen Report.

Whenever non-transparent organizations with codes of silence meddle in national and international politics, we should beware, because booty calls often morph into blackmail. At least we know the agenda of the Moonies – we need to uncover the real agenda of the Family. That’s why the Columbus pastors have done a great service by issuing the complaint against this mysterious Christian “Family.”