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
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 were
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 I 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
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.
Fitrakis is the author of six books in The Fitrakis Files series. Cops, Coverups
and Corruption can be purchased from the from the Free Press Online Store. He also is
Editor of freepress.org,
where this article first appeared.