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 https://freepress.org in the Online Store. Originally published by https://freepress.org.