Bob Bytes Back Archives: 12/25/1996 Nosedive

by Bob Fitrakis

Looks like Assistant City Attorney Glenn Redick-the man charged with the task of taking on Police Chief James Jackson and ferreting out police corruption-took a dive in the mayor’s prosecution. Either the fix was in, or Redick was sleepwalking during the hearings. As one veteran reporter covering the hearings commented, “The rug is getting thicker and thicker as they sweep the dirt under it.”

A scenario floating from various sources goes like this: about two weeks ago, attitudes began to change in the Jackson probe. As a precursor to this, Columbus City Council members John Kennedy, Les Wright and Michael Coleman had pressured the mayor’s investigation team to wrap up quickly. Rumors abounded that a deal was being struck between the mayor and Council members. The Chief and his backers were battling back with embarrassing information they had in their possession. Did they really want the Chief under oath testifying about everything he knew concerning escort services? The public exposure of the Arthur Shapiro murder file finally cemented the deal. The Chief, who, after all, was protecting some of the most important political and business movers and shakers in Columbus, was to get a slap on the wrist. And it will be business as usual in systematically and institutionally corrupt Cowtown.

This takes us to Arthur Shapiro. Let’s rehash that story. Local attorney and everyone’s favorite creative accountant, Shapiro, was gunned down in what was considered a mob hit the day before he was to testify to federal authorities concerning problems he was having with the IRS in 1985. A partner at Schwartz, Shapiro, Kelm & Warren, Shapiro’s clients included The Limited, and he was at the time being investigated for his dealings with Berry L. Kessler, an accountant later convicted of helping Shapiro avoid paying income tax. Kessler is serving time in Florida for hiring a hitman to kill a business partner. He also was suspected of having a hand in the Shapiro slaying.

Because Shapiro worked for The Limited, Elizabeth Laupp of the Organized Crime Bureau did linkage analysis that pointed out in a June 6, 1991 memo the obvious connections between The Limited’s Les Wexner, former City Council President Jerry Hammond and current City Councilwoman Les Wright. Wexner helped fund Hammond’s now-defunct Major Chord nightclub in the Short North, and Wright served as vice president of the company that owned it. Shapiro reportedly worked on a land deal that paved the way for Wexner’s vast New Albany Company development, and Hammond’s and later Wright’s votes on Council helped facilitate that development.

Attorney James Balthaser took over some of Shapiro’s most interesting work at Schwartz, Kelm, Warren & Rubenstein. Balthaser is now at Thompson, Hine and Flory, where he is a law partner with the Chief’s lawyer, Bill Wilkinson. Wilkinson and Balthaser both happen to work for the firm that’s the primary legal counsel for the mighty Banks Carbone Construction Company, recently listed in Business First as Greater Columbus’s leading minority-owned firm with sales nearly equal to the second- and third-ranked firms combined. A miraculous success story for high school graduate T.G. Banks, the Chief’s close buddy. They share a lot of things, like an interest in the steel industry. The Chief, we recall, is a steel magnate; he runs Interstate Steel from his home on Bryden Road. We know from the Ohio Department of Taxation that he’s the president, secretary and treasurer of Interstate. But less well known is that Banks was listed as the owner of the company when it was incorporated in 1992. In most cities, a police chief operating a steel business with no steelyard in a residential neighborhood might raise eyebrows. Not here.

Anyway, Wilkinson looked like a heavyweight champ against the lackluster punching-bag Redick. And the Chief can soon go back to protecting and serving. After all, he’s done such a fine job. It was the Chief who insisted that Ted Oshodi be our Civilian Crime Prevention Coordinator although he was rated last among half a dozen candidates and was investigated last year for allegedly repeatedly raping his daughter from 1986-’88. While the charges weren’t brought to a grand jury for criminal prosecution since the daughter reported them years later and only had a polygraph to back her up, they still were open for a police Internal Affairs investigation that doesn’t have to meet “a beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. When Oshodi was ordered to take a polygraph on these charges, an August 11, 1995 memo from Officer Cathy Collins of the polygraph unit complained about an order she received “per chain of command … not to ask any questions of Ted Oshodi … prior to his hire date” of December 6, 1994. Interestingly, the alleged rapes took place prior to his hire date. And, the order reportedly came directly from the top. Eventually, Collins won out and she concluded the following: “that Mr. Oshodi was NOT TRUTHFUL when answering” four questions about sexually abusing his daughter. She also determined that the daughter was “truthful” on all four questions.

Redick forgot to ask the Chief about the bizarre restrictions he supposedly placed on Oshodi’s polygraph test. Also, Redick did not call Sharlynn English, the Chief’s very close friend and admitted former employee of “Dulcet” Escort Services; nor English’s good friend, next-door neighbor and close companion to Commander Walter Burns, Carol Huffman; nor Gail Richey, who observed the Chief’s relationship with English in the late ’80s. English’s sworn deposition reveals that the Chief visited her regularly two to three times a week for six to nine months at 5318 Karl Road for nooners. Right next door, at 5328, Richey was receiving then-Lieutenant Walter Burns, whose alleged involvement with the prostitution ring spurred the Jackson investigation.