Bob Bytes Back Archive: 11/06/1996 Eight Days A Week

by Bob Fitrakis

How many hours are in a month? Don’t ask the police chief’s son, Officer Jason Jackson. Law-enforcement sources say that Jason’s figures just don’t add up for the “special duty” police security he coordinated for the South of Main project. You remember the South of Main project? Chief Jackson’s good buddy Tommy Banks “rescued” the project from the evil clutches of the non-profit South of Main Development Corporation headed by the dreaded Shawn Thompson. Or so the spin goes.

The real battle was over who would control the housing assets in the future: a non-profit or a for-profit entity. Say $10 million is put into “low-income” housing stock, primarily public funds. How long does it have to serve “low-income” residents? What happens after 10 years when the property is worth some $30 million? Who owns it then?

The non-profit South of Main was taken out of the picture when it was squeezed by certain bankers and city officials. Thompson was inflexible when it came to understanding the needs of very powerful people. She insisted that the low-income housing assets belonged to the community through a non-profit organization. The Columbus Police Intelligence Unit entered the fray, apparently siding with mysterious “for-profit” persons-whoever they may be. A raid by the Columbus Police effectively killed the South of Main Development Corporation. So far, no criminal charges have ever been brought against the South of Main, although it was widely alleged that they were mismanaging their finances.

Anyway, hear the one about Tommy and the Chief wanting to go into business together? Something to do with housing. Since Banks took over the South of Main project, sources say it looks as though over $100,000 in security has been provided by Special Duty Columbus Police. And Officer Jason Jackson has worked hard coordinating those assignments. In one month, police worked so diligently that they billed for 200 hours more than exist in an actual month.

Oops! Inquiring minds want to know whether he was a victim of the late, great “new math” movement, or protecting his dad’s future housing assets. Who’s mismanaging finances now?

Lucky dog
Speaking of mismanagement, former Police Intelligence Supervisor-now reassigned-Commander Curtis Marcum handled the South of Main raid for the Chief. Maybe he should’ve raided his brother-in-law Tony Lombardi’s place. Who knows what he would’ve turned up. Perhaps Lombardi’s reported card-playing buddy Franklin County Prosecutor Michael Miller. According to a police intelligence report, Miller allegedly likes an occasional high-stakes game of cards upstairs at The Refectory. You know, the same type of game that got retired Police Sergeant Mt. Vernon Johnson killed. And who better to spin stories with over a friendly game of poker than Lombardi? Lord knows Lombardi’s reportedly got some tales to tell.

Like the little matter of being a suspect in two murders, according to police intelligence files. James D. Colliver, Lombardi’s partner in the car dealership Contemporary Cars, met an untimely demise. Redrum! 187! So did Frank Yassanoff soon after he filed charges in 1970 against Lombardi for allegedly falsifying auto titles. Hopefully, Lombardi has better luck at picking cards than business partners. Just like Bojangles’ dog, they got a tendency to “up and die” on him.

On the topic of luck, Lombardi’s had pretty good luck in the Franklin County Courts. A grand theft charge was dismissed in June 1975 and a charge of passing bad checks was dismissed in November of the same year, according to a police intelligence report. Sure, there was the little run of bad luck in May 1983 when Lombardi pled guilty to two charges of passing bad checks, but what the hell. It could’ve been worse. After all, the prosecutor dismissed 10 other counts pending against Tony.

More bad news in March 1984 when he was convicted of gambling, yet “luck was a lady” that year and he got a one-year suspended sentence. There’s probably a really good reason why the prosecutor’s office dropped a unauthorized use of dealer’s plates charge against Lombardi in 1984. And the little matter of the allegations concerning kickbacks to a Bureau of Motor Vehicles employee during that period were never substantiated.

So, this Chief Jackson thing is really just a witch-hunt and Commander Marcum is being a scapegoat just because he has a lucky dog of a brother-in-law. And anyone who says otherwise, or anything about any of Marcum’s family members being in Mt. Vernon Johnson’s bookie book, is just an unlucky liar.

Burns me up
Did you hear the rumor about a really lucky police commander formerly in Internal Affairs-recently reassigned-who just happens to be holding a very valuable electronic Rolodex? Now suppose the names of some very powerful people-law enforcement leaders, politicians, judges-who frequented high-priced prostitutes were in that Rolodex? No, it’s not the Heidi Fleiss scandal, it’s a Cowtown Caper. One Anthony D. Mennucci ran a high-priced call girl ring in Columbus and his Rolodex, once securely in police custody, has disappeared.

The key question in the Chief Jackson investigation remains: “Why did the chief go so easy on former Internal Affairs Commander Burns?” This investigation ain’t about “racism,” it’s about who runs the prostitution and gambling rackets in Columbus. Bet on it.