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.

The Dispatch Goes For The Re-kill Of Arthur Shapiro

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