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Green Party candidate Bob Fitrakis is running for Franklin County Prosecutor in 2016.

He promises to prosecute polluters, rogue cops, and corporate criminals.

What I hope to accomplish as Franklin County Prosecutor?
* Prosecute any police using excessive force
* Prosecute polluters poisoning the people, soil, water, or air
* Prosecute individuals involved in scandals, such as Redflex and data-rigging within Columbus City Schools
* Set up a whistleblower’s hotline
* Prosecute anyone involved in vote tampering or voter suppression, including elected officials
* Make Franklin County a Bill of Rights Enforcement Zone
* Arrest any individuals or government officials illegally spying on the people of Franklin County
* Guarantee due process and equal protection for all people, especially immigrants, minorities, and the poor who are targeted unfairly by the police
* Advocate for decriminalization and legalization of marijuana and hemp
* Provide treatment and diversion programs rather than jail sentences for drug addicts and abusers
* Go after the real drug dealers with ties to the CIA who bring drugs in by the planeload – wealthy, well-connected cartels

Bob Fitrakis Biography
Bob Fitrakis is currently the co-chair of the Ohio Green Party and the Franklin County Green Party. He ran as the Green Party Lt. Governor with Anita Rios in 2014 when the Green Party received over 100,000 votes in Ohio. He was also a candidate in the 3rd congressional district in 2012 and as the Green Party endorsed candidate for governor of Ohio in 2006. He has been a member of the Green Shadow Cabinet as the Federal Elections Commissioner since 2013 after he worked with Jill Stein, the 2012 presidential candidate.
Fitrakis is a Political Science Professor in the Social Sciences department at Columbus State Community College, where he won the Distinguished Professor Award in 2012. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Wayne State University and a J.D. from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. He was a Ford Foundation Fellow to the Michigan State legislature and currently serves as a Near East Area Commissioner. He co-authored “What Happened in Ohio: A documentary record of theft and fraud in the 2004 election” (New Press, 2006), and has authored or co-authored 12 other books including six on election integrity. Fitrakis is the editor of the Free Press, freepress.org and columbusfreepress.com.
Fitrakis was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 2003. In his first major case, he sued Ohio State University for violating students’ civil rights who were organizing the annual Hemp Festival, and won. He represented anti-fracking activist madeline ffitch, arrested for civil disobedience at a fracking well in southeastern Ohio. He also had charges dismissed against Kevin Egler in Kent, Ohio for posting an “Impeach Bush” sign on public property. He was served as the attorney for the Columbus NAACP, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, the Ohio Green Party, the Ohio Rights Group, Columbus Film Festival, The Neighborhood Network, Columbus Institute for Contemporary Journalism, among others.
Fitrakis has been an election protection activist since March 1994, when he served as an international observer for the national elections in El Salvador. He co-wrote and edited the El Salvador election report for the United Nations. Fitrakis was an election protection attorney on November 2, 2004 in Franklin County. After witnessing election suppression, he called the first public hearings on voter suppression and election irregularities and was one of four attorneys to file a challenge to Ohio’s presidential elections results: Moss v. Bush and Moss v. Moyer. In 2006, Fitrakis was co-counsel in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville lawsuit against the Ohio Secretary of State’s office seeking to end racially discriminatory electoral practices in Ohio and to ensure free and fair elections. He authored a 50-point consent decree to ensure election integrity in Ohio submitted to the current Secretary of State. Many of these proposals have been adopted by the state of Ohio.
In December 2004, Fitrakis testified before the Judiciary Committee of Congress at the request of Rep. John Conyers in both Washington D.C. and Columbus. The information gathered from the Fitrakis’ investigations and hearings resulted in the Conyers Report, “What Went Wrong in Ohio?” released January 5, 2005. Fitrakis spoke to the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Ohio’s election issues. Fitrakis briefed John Kerry, worked on election reform with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-LA), and briefed the Democratic Party Senate leadership. He later briefed the Congressional Progressive Caucus as well as the Congressional Black Caucus and the Senate Democratic leadership. Dr. Fitrakis testified at the Election Assessment hearings in Houston, Texas in 2005, which became part of the Carter-Baker Commission Report on federal election reform.

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Fitrakis’ Election Integrity Work

US Prfesidential Election Theft

In March 1994 he served as an international observer for the national elections in El Salvador and in 1993, he visited Reynosa and Matamoros, Mexico as part of a human rights delegation to investigate conditions in the maquilladoras. As a result of the trip, he co-produced a video entitled “The Other Side of Free Trade” shown around the country at colleges and public access stations.

Fitrakis was an international election observer for the 1994 El Salvador presidential election and co-authored and edited the International Observer Election Report. Fitrakis’ investigative reporting on election irregularities and fraud began prior to the Florida debacle of the 2000 election. He uncovered the history and Republican and CIA connections to the electronic voting machine companies in several articles throughout 2000 prior to Election Day. He worked with the late Athan Gibbs, inventor of TruVote voting machines that supplied a paper trail, in exposing the flaws of computer voting machines.

He helped organize Election Protection activities in central Ohio for the 2004 election including Video the Vote and legal observers at the polls. He received international attention after being an Election Protection attorney during the 2004 Ohio presidential election, and subsequently investigating the election irregularities. He initiated the original public hearings at the New Faith Baptist Church and Franklin County Courthouse in Columbus, Ohio two weeks after the November 2, 2004 Election Day to hear sworn testimony and take notarized affidavits from voters and observers who experienced election irregularities. Over 750 people participated in the hearings that were simultaneously broadcast on radio and on international media.

Fitrakis was an Election Protection attorney on November 2, 2004 in Franklin County. He called the first public hearings on voter suppression and election irregularities and was one of four attorneys to file a challenge to Ohio’s presidential elections results: Moss v. Bush and Moss v. Moyer.

Dr. Fitrakis was instrumental in putting together a coalition of nonprofit organizations, public officials, attorneys, voters, videographers, and activists to continue the investigations across Ohio. He helped organize four other public hearings in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Toledo, and Warren, Ohio. In December 2004, Fitrakis testified before the Judiciary Committee of Congress at the request of Rep. John Conyers in both Washington D.C. and Columbus.

The information gathered from the Free Press investigations and hearings resulted in the Conyers Report, “What Went Wrong in Ohio?” released January 5, 2005. Fitrakis spoke to the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Ohio’s election issues. Fitrakis was one of four attorneys who challenged the election results in federal court immediately after the election, Moss v, Bush, with the assistance of Rev. Jesse Jackson. While working with Jackson, Fitrakis briefed top Democratic leaders, including U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-Cleveland) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), and helped organize and craft the language for the first Congressional challenge to the seating of Ohio’s delegates in our country’s history.

Fitrakis briefed John Kerry, worked on election reform with Rep. Maxine Waters (D-LA) and Rep. John Kerry (D-Atlanta), and briefed the Democratic Party Senate leadership. He later briefed the Congressional Progressive Caucus as well as the Congressional Black Caucus and the Senate Democratic leadership. Dr. Fitrakis testified at the Election Assessment hearings in Houston, Texas, which became part of the Carter-Baker Report. Throughout 2005-2007 Fitrakis organized investigators under the auspices of the CICJ to visit key Boards of Elections in Ohio to physically examine and count ballots, videotape and photograph election evidence, and write reports. Much of this evidence appears in his books and in a project he coordinated for an online digital archive.

Fitrakis co-authored What Happened in Ohio? A documentary record of theft and fraud in the 2004 election (New Press) and has authored or co-authored three other election books including How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008 the companion summary book to the 767-page volume Did George W. Bush Steal America’s 2004 Election? Essential Documents, co-edited with Harvey Wasserman and Steve Rosenfeld. He co-wrote the freepress.org article “How a Republican Election Supervisor Manipulated the 2004 Central Ohio Vote” that received the Project Censored Third Most Censored story in the world in 2005. He has written chapters for the book Hacked (Truth Enterprises Publishing) in 2006 and Mark Crispin Miller’s Loser Take All (Ig Publishing) in 2008.

Fitrakis has been interviewed on countless national and local radio and TV programs as an expert on Ohio’s election irregularities and subsequent election reform issues. He was a featured speaker at the first voting rights teach-in in Berkeley in February 2005 and at national organizing conferences for the growing voting rights movement from San Francisco to Nashville to New York City. Fitrakis received a grant to take his books on a west coast book tour from San Diego to Seattle during 2005.

He helped a coalition of individuals and groups hold a 3-day Voting Rights Revival conference in Columbus in 2005 and another in 2008. Over 10 national and international independent video documentaries feature Fitrakis, including the Sundance Award-winning “American Blackout” by Ian Inaba of GNN. Through the Free Press, he and the Ecological Options Network co-produced the short video “Help America Vote on Paper” on election reform advocacy video that has been distributed worldwide. On behalf of the Free Press, Fitrakis wrote and received two national grants to continue the election reform work through 2006 and 2007. Fitrakis was interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now and by Lou Dobbs on CNN.

Fitrakis ran for Governor of Ohio in 2006 as an independent endorsed by the Green Party on a platform of election reform. He worked with five other independent statewide candidates to place dozens of election rights observers inside the polling sites and Boards of Elections on Election Day throughout Ohio. Gore Vidal volunteered to help Fitrakis with his campaign. Vidal sponsored and appeared alongside him at a fund-raiser and live Pacifica radio broadcast in Santa Monica. Fitrakis successfully brought the election irregularities to public attention, as well as the criminal antics of his Republican opposition for governor Ohio’s Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell was sorely trounced in the election and is no longer a political entity in Ohio, and Fitrakis received 41,000 votes.

As of June 2008, Fitrakis was co-counsel in the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville lawsuit against the Ohio Secretary of State’s office seeking to end racially discriminatory electoral practices in Ohio and to ensure free and fair elections. Fitrakis authored a 50-point consent decree to ensure election integrity in Ohio submitted to the current Secretary of State. Many of these proposals have been adopted by the state of Ohio. He continues to speak on radio and TV programs, present at conferences, and help produce independent election-related videos. He and Wasserman continue to report regularly on election reform issues in the Free Press, on freepress.org and numerous other progressive websites such as Counterpunch, Commondreams, Salon, Alternet, and Bradblog – as well as their own internet radio program at freepress.org/podcasts.

Fitrakis continues to lead annual election protection efforts in Ohio. The post-election report of 2008 was brought before the UN by the International Association of Educators for World Peace. In 2008, the CICJ exposed that over 1.25 million voters had been purged in Ohio and in 2012 was able to document that over one million voters were purged in the Buckeye State. Fitrakis is and Harvey Wasserman in updating their election book for a new edition in 2012, Corporate Vote Theft and the Future of American Democracy.

Fitrakis ran for the 3rd district of U.S. Congress with the Green Party in 2012 and held several press conferences with Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein about the vulnerabilities of voting machines.

In 2012, Fitrakis uncovered information about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his family and friends ties to the voting machine company Hart InterCivic. Also that year, the Ohio Secretary of State, Jon Husted, planned to put experimental and untested patches on voting machine tabulators in the state. Fitrakis was the plaintiff in a lawsuit to stop the patches on Election Day that November. The Washington Spectator speculated in an article entitled “Did an Election Day Lawsuit Stop Karl Rove’s Vote-Rigging Scheme in Ohio?” that the legal proceedings may have prevented a stolen election in Ohio.

During the 2016 Democratic primary season, Fitrakis filed a lawsuit to gain access to unadjusted exit poll results from the Edison Research company because of suspicious results in 12 key states. He is a fellow with the American Institute for Democracy and Election Integrity working to research, expose, and prevent election fraud and organize election protection efforts. Fitrakis and Wasserman co-authored another book, “The Strip & Flip Selection on 2016: Five Jim Crows and Electronic Election Theft.”

US Presidential Election Theft

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Candidate Forum – Franklin County Prosecutor September 14, 2016

Candidate Forum – Franklin County Prosecutor

September 14, 2016, 6 – 8pm

Mt. Olivet Baptist Church
428 E Main St
Columbus, OH 43215

 

2012 011

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Issue 1, The Green Party Of Franklin County

The Franklin County Green Party, the only alternative political party in Central Ohio, endorses Issue One in the August 2, 2016 special election and urges all Green Party members and supporters to vote “yes.”
The Franklin County Green Party has worked for and supported an expansion of Columbus City Council with district representation since its inception in the year 2000.
“In this presidential election year, when the major parties are offering the two most unpopular candidates in modern history, it is more important than ever to create new leadership and add new voices at the grassroots level,” co-Chair Bob Fitrakis said. “Issue One will end the stagnant and corrupt Democratic Party monopoly over the Columbus City Council and allow ordinary people to elect representatives from parts of the city that have been historically under served.”
“The Democratic Party is engaged in a vicious campaign of lies and distortion against Issue One because it threatens their dictatorial party power over the city. They also characterize Issue One as a campaign as coming from the Republican Party when, in fact, the idea originated from the Green Party, independent voters, and black grassroots activists on the east side of the city, one of the most neglected areas of Columbus,” Fitrakis said.
The Franklin County Green Party urges all of those concerned with clean government, the environment, and real democracy to get out and work for the passage of Issue One.Issue 1 50perc

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Bob on Nicole Sandler Show June 10. 2016

From Nicole’s youtube channel:
“Streamed live on Jun 10, 2016
This week, the video of a meeting about election integrity in California in which attorneys Bob Fitrakis & Cliff Arenbeck explain why they’ve filed lawsuits demanding the release of exit polling and returns to show that fraud is inherent in our system. This morning, Bob Fitrakis joins in to tell us of their concerns, give an update on the lawsuit, and what comes next.

Find out more and watch the full video of the 5-27 meeting at trustvote.org

In hour two, we’ll open the phones to get your reaction at 954-889-6410 or via Skype to nicolesandler.”

promoFitFCpros

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Bob Speaking @ Congressional Briefing April 21, 2016

Fitrakis from Ben-Zion Ptashnik on Vimeo.

apr21VideoIntro

Other links and info:

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/35846-members-of-congress-call-for-end-to-mass-voter-suppression-and-insecure-elections

http://columbusfreepress.com/article/how-voter-suppression-efforts-are-threatening-our-democracy

Bob Speaking at the Ohio Green Caucus Apr. 3 2016

Fitrakis

Bob starts at the 25:04 mark
https://youtu.be/UqwVR26tgKY?t=1445

Fitrakis

April 3, 2016 Green Party Caucus

 

Below is the compilation of all the Ohio candidates.

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The gatekeepers: Striking it rich in the bail bond business

Columbus Alive Archive Article

The gatekeepers (Bail bonds)
05/07/1997
FEATURED ARTICLE
The gatekeepers
Striking it rich in the bail bond business

by Bob Fitrakis

Despite a city ordinance prohibiting the soliciting of business by bail bondsmen, “in or around any court or public place,” a month-long investigation by Columbus Alive revealed that the law is routinely ignored. One firm, SMD & HLS Bonding Company, appears to be running its business from the “interview” room next to arraignment Courtroom 4D in the Municipal Court building. SMD & HLS bail bonders linger in the hall and sit in the back of the court and appear to be soliciting business.

The so-called public “interview” room appears to function as a high-powered office for the SMD & HLS Bonding Company, listed in the yellow pages as four different firms: Handler Bonding, Lowell Fox, Sam English and A-Aa Absolute Bail Bonds. Still appearing in the yellow pages entry is a photo of Sam English, who has been dead for several years. As of the writing of this article, the woman who answers the phone at the Sam English firm tells callers that Mr. English “isn’t in.”

Although the courthouse is a no-smoking public building, smoke wafts from the interview room when the door is opened as bail bondsmen hustle family and friends of defendants from the arraignment court to their office equipped with phones and a criss-cross phone directory. As one highly placed law-enforcement source put it, “It’s the old adage. The best place to hide illegal activity is out in the open.”

A non-Handler bondsman pointed out what he saw as an analogous situation. In 1990, the Board of Commissioners on Grievances and Discipline of the Supreme Court of Ohio suspended Judge Ralph D. Dye Jr. of McConnelsville for using public space to conduct private business. The board labeled his free-rent arrangement at the courthouse “inexcusable, unfair to other attorneys and unethical.”

In a letter dated November 21, 1996, in response to a public records request, Municipal Clerk of Courts Paul Herbert, stated: “I have not been designated, nor do I have any authority to enforce the use of the conference room next to Court Room 4D. …The rules for the use of the room have been clearly posted on the door.”

Asked if his bondsmen are soliciting business on the fourth floor, Handler said in a telephone interview: “Totally untrue. I don’t need to solicit. I’ve been in business 25 years. I advertise. People refer other people to me.”

Are his bondsmen running a business out of the Interview room next to 4D? “No,” Handler responded.

Most court officials say that the interview room is set up to serve lawyers and their clients for privileged private discussion. On three different occasions, when Columbus Alive watched the Interview Room, the only people inside were bail bondsmen. The rules, according to a non-Handler bondsman, are “first-come, first-serve. But, it’s like the Old West. [Handler]’s got Woody Fox, a retired Columbus police officer working as a bondsman. He’s got Al Clark, former chief deputy at the sheriff’s department, and when you go up there, Handler’s got the nerve to tell you that you’re not supposed to be there. ‘No soliciting.’ So now I just sit by the phone and wait for people to call for bonds. It’s cheaper. Everyone over there has their palms out; if you pay one, you’ve got to pay ’em all.”

Handler now appears to be the top gun, but not after a fight—literally. In 1994, the Columbus Dispatch reported that “Bondsman Jack Bates said his nose was bloodied and his face bruised when Mark Glaser, a bondsman with Harvey Handler’s bail bonding agency, struck him in the face on the fourth floor of the Franklin County Municipal Court.”

Ironically, bail bondsmen were supposed to be a thing of the past. In 1972, Ohio Chief Justice C. William O’Neill attacked the Ohio General Assembly for yielding to “pressure from bail bondsmen in rejecting rules for criminal procedure” reforms proposed by the Ohio Supreme Court in January of ’72. In a Dispatch article, O’Neill stated that, “In 90 percent of the cases the bail bondsman renders no service and takes no risk, but keeps his profit.”

By 1974, the Franklin County Municipal Court initiated its Pre-Trial Release Program (PTRP) in hopes of eliminating the need for costly and often unnecessary bond fees in most criminal cases. The era of reform is long over in the Franklin County Municipal Court. Herbert acknowledges in his letter that between January 1, 1996 and September 30, 1996 SMD & HLS Bonding Company wrote far more bonds in Municipal Court than any other firm. The breakdown is as follows: SMD & HLS Bonding Company – 3411; Columbus Bail Bonds – 891; Chuck Brown Bail Bond Agency – 603; International Bonds – 424; Bates Bonding – 52; American Bail Bond Agency – 15; other – 75.

Whether it’s legal or not is a question few judges or court officials care to probe. A cozy relationship exists between bail bondsman Harvey Handler—who manages or controls the four different bail bonding agencies in Columbus—and judges, Clerk of Court officials and court employees. Handler is a major political contributor to judicial and Clerk of Court office candidates and sometimes generous benefactor to court employees.

“Handler runs the fourth floor,” said former bail bondsman Bill Neil. “It’s a protected racket. The reason they like the fourth floor of Muni Court is because the felons are initially arraigned there, even though they’re tried in Common Pleas.

“It’s easy money. They can bail somebody out and they know the charges will be dropped within two weeks in Municipal Court because they have to be tried in Common Pleas. They’re just taking people’s money with no risk involved,” explained Neil.

Neil claims he went “broke in the business. Every two weeks, when the clerks didn’t get paid, I had to spend $50 or $60 to get pizzas…. And I had to give a security guard 30 bucks to pass out my business card.”

Under the current system, for example, if you are arrested for felonious assault and your bond is set at $5,000, you must pay 10 percent, or $500, to the court for an “appearance bond” or $500 to a bail bondsman for a “surety” bond. In the case of an appearance bond, you would get all but 10 percent ($450) back when you appear in court. With a surety bond from a bail bondsman, you would get nothing back when you appear at trial. But if you paid a surety bond and failed to show at trial, the bondsman is legally liable for the entire $5,000 bond.

The type of bonds are set at the judge’s discretion. Judges may also set recognizance bonds and release the defendant without posting any cash.

“Judges vary greatly. When I was in the business, if [Municipal Court Judge] Anne Taylor was on the bench doing arraignments, we took the week off,” Neil explained.

Curiously, Criminal Rule 46 of Ohio Rules of Criminal Procedure concerning the “Pre-trial release in felony cases,” provides that judges should use “personal recognizance” or an “unsecured appearance bond” as the “preferred method of release.” But few judges besides Taylor appear to follow it.

Since the Municipal Court cannot try felony cases, arrested felons are seen by municipal judges primarily for the setting of bond. Court records indicate that arrested felons are routinely arraigned and bonded on the fourth floor of the Municipal Court building and, just as routinely, the charges are dismissed a short time later. Defendants are told that the case will “be dismissed for possible future indictment.”

A grand jury later meets in the Common Pleas Court and holds a hearing. If an indictment is handed up, a summons is usually issued for a Common Pleas court appearance. Thus, what the bail bondsmen know is that there is little or no risk involved in forfeiting a surety bond in Municipal Court since the charges against the defendants will be dismissed. “It’s a scam,” as one bondsman put it. By not carrying over the bonds from the Municipal Court arraignments of felons to Common Pleas Court cases, Handler and other bondsmen are regularly pocketing thousands of dollars in risk-free money. And defendants are often surprised when they are required to repost bond money when they are summoned to Common Pleas Court.

If Municipal Clerk of Courts Herbert, “wanted to put his foot down, he could end this practice tomorrow,” said a S. High Street bondsman critical of Handler. “I’ve practiced in Marion County, Delaware County, Madison County and Franklin County. This is the only place that allows this to go on,” he added.

Herbert, who is up for re-election this year, is on record defending the practices of his court. “…You must realize that surety bonds provide a valuable service to the criminal justice system. Not only do you have agents with a vested interest in catching and returning defendants to court to stand trial for their conduct, but the court holds the security (in the form of a power) that can be executed against for the amount of the bond if the defendant does not return or the agent does not pay the bond.”

Herbert pointed out in a telephone interview Monday that the interview room is “open to the public, attorneys and bondsmen.” While his office is on the fourth floor, he said he was unaware of any soliciting of business by bondsmen. “I have no idea; I don’t police those rooms.” He suggested that Administrative Judge David Fais or Building Manager Bill Charlton would be responsible. “I try to stay out of that area,” Herbert added.

Asked about his relationship with Handler, Herbert acknowledged that Handler is a political contributor to Herbert and other judges and court-related officials, but not a “big donor.” Herbert did term Handler “very supportive” of his own political campaign.

Both Neil and other bondsmen charge that the Clerk’s office allows another infamous “rip-off” of criminal defendants. All bonds include an additional fee collected for the Victims of Crime Fund and the Public Defender’s Office. In felony cases, this amounts to $41: $30 to the Victim’s Fund and $11 to the Public Defenders. When cases are dismissed, or defendants are found not guilty, the money is returned to the bondsman who posted it, not to the defendant who supplied the cash. Legally, the money belongs to the defendants, but all too frequently, bondsmen fail to return the money and pocket it as pure profit. With no court enforcement to return the funds, the bail bondsmen benefit. “Money for nothing,” one bondsman explained. Neil pointed out that since most of the defendants are poor and uneducated, they are “easy marks” who don’t understand the legal system and are unlikely to protest the practice. Plus, their reputation as suspected criminals does not garner much sympathy for their plight.

Asked if the bondsmen are essentially taking defendants’ money twice, Herbert responded, “I suppose they would [be]. You need to ask the prosecutors, they’re the ones that dismiss the cases.”

According to a 1994 Dispatch article, 1,279 defendants released on surety bonds set in Municipal Court skipped bond. Neil and other bail bondsmen charge that Municipal Clerk of Court Herbert and Franklin County Clerk of Courts Jesse Oddi show favoritism to Handler’s firms. “Hell, when I had to pay a bond for a skip, the deputy clerks used to joke that ‘Handler’s guys are never down here,’” said Neil.

The Dispatch article also reported that: “In reality, court officials say more than half of bond forfeitures are set aside by judges. They may forgive the debt at their discretion.” Court records obtained by Columbus Alive indicate that court officials seem to be more forgiving for the Handler firms than others. Take the case of Dean Hinchee, arrested in 1991. Handler posted a $3,500 surety bonded for Hinchee on November 11, 1991. When Hinchee failed to show on January 28, 1992, Handler had 30 days to produce him or forfeit the bond. In a November 1996 billing to the SMD & HLS Bonding Company, a Dean Hinchere is listed instead of Hinchee. Although the names are spelled differently, Alive has obtained copies showing that the case numbers are the same: 29681. In the ’96 Handler billing the court requests only $350 from SMD & HLS Bonding when the full amount that should have been forfeited by Handler in 1992 for Hinchee’s court skip is $3,500.

Either by accident or design, Franklin County Courts are apparently shaving a zero off of Handler’s bond forfeiture bills, in effect billing one of the court’s major political donors at only 10 percent of the amount due.

Asked about the apparent shaving, Herbert said, “It’s currently being litigated” and refused further comment.

Asked about the allegations that bills are being shaved, Handler answered: “Totally incorrect. It doesn’t deserve a response. My attorneys are dealing with it.”

When probed about allegations that court employees have accepted gratuities from Handler and other bail bondsmen, Herbert said, “I don’t think that’s going on; if it is, they need to knock it off. We’re not supposed to be taking anything of value; but it’s a gray area of the law.” Herbert pointed out that, unless there was a quid pro quo, a gift for service, any gratuities or perks provided court officials by bondsmen probably aren’t illegal. “We should avoid the appearance of impropriety, and I’ve instructed my people not to accept any gifts.”

The billing of bondsmen seems to be a haphazard system. Herbert and his deputy clerks reportedly have busied themselves of late putting records into “storage.” This may make it all the more difficult to account for the total amount of forfeited bonds owed the Municipal Court by bond firms. In an independent audit by KPMG Peat Marwick LLP for the period January 1, 1994 through December 31, 1994, the report states that the Municipal Court practices “other than generally accepted accounting principles.” In a June 25, 1996 letter, State Auditor Jim Petro—currently lobbying to head the U.S. General Accounting Office—”accepted” the KPMG report “in lieu of the audit required by Section 117.11 Revised Code.” Petro noted “The Auditor of State did not audit the accompanying financial statements and accordingly, we are unable to express, and do not express an opinion on them.”

The obvious beneficiaries of such a system are not the public or poor and uneducated defendants and their families and friends, but the incumbent judges and clerk candidates who receive political donations, and the bonding companies who benefit from court officials’ lack of oversight.