Deception HQ

Jones Day, embarrassed to be from Cleveland.

Cleveland law firms Operation Save America fundamentalist Christians Slavic Village crack dealers con men
Most large law firms proudly announce the locales of their corporate headquarters. Skadden Arps, America's third-largest firm, boasts of headquarters in New York. Baker & McKenzie (no. 1) regularly notes its central Chicago location, while Latham & Watkins (no. 4) never denies it's based in L.A.

But while no. 2, Jones Day, may be one of the jewels of Cleveland, don't ask where its headquarters are located. We "have no corporate headquarters," a spokesperson for the company said recently. The firm, it seems, is just a tad embarrassed to be from Cleveland.

It's the kind of deception that plays out in firms everywhere. Suburban lawyers routinely use fake addresses from nearby cities, under the thesis that a barrister in, say, South Euclid could never be as sophisticated as one from Cleveland. Likewise, even reputable firms here in Flyover Country feel inadequate next to fellow paperwork slingers from Manhattan.

Especially when it comes to corporate law. Such are the tribulations of an industry powered by the two shallowest species on earth: lawyers and executives.

The matter was recently addressed by The Wall Street Journal's legal blog, which posed the question: Would corporados be "less likely to hire a Jones Day lawyer if it said it was headquartered in Cleveland? Would an indicted white-collar not retain a Reed Smith lawyer because the firm was based in Pittsburgh?"

Alas, the responses seemed to support Jones Day's embarrassment. One attorney calling himself "Wallstreetguy" wrote to say that Clevelanders have a "nice town, nice people, but the New York M&A and corporate-finance lawyers hate to be associated with such a 'provincial' town. Such provenience disqualifies them in the eyes of their white-shoe-accustomed targets, investment banks and the like."

Another lawyer noted, "I think it stems from the fact that corporate boards probably don't know a lot about law firms. If a company lost some big case, and the board found out that the company's attorneys were from Cleveland, they would be upset."

Said yet another: "As a law firm, not being from New York is an immediate strike against you when dealing with large companies, who like to think of themselves as sophisticated."

All of which is why God believes it's okay to suspend that Love Thy Neighbor thing when it comes to lawyers and executives.

Rapists for Jesus
Earlier this month, more than 8,000 homos gathered at Voinovich Park to trade recipes and fashion insights during Cleveland Pride festivities.

Unfortunately, the laws of nature dictate that whenever gays and lesbians gather, religious nutbags must follow. It's in the Bible.

Enter Operation Save America, formerly known as Operation Rescue, the group that used to scream at pregnant ladies. After apparently learning that such behavior can get you on the wrong end of St. Peter's tire iron, they've now taken to screaming at men in pink.

"We were proclaiming the gospel of Christ to those who are lost in the sin of homosexual bondage and lust," says Director Flip Benham.

The leader of the Cleveland protest was none other than Howard Scott Heldreth of Charlotte, North Carolina, who may not be the best representative of God's will. He previously spent 19 months in an Ohio jail on charges of rape and kidnapping, which he pleaded down to sexual battery.

But when you're dealing with a national threat as grave as homocity, it appears that rape is a minor consideration. "We just deal with the sin of homosexuality, and say it will destroy the lives of those who engage in those kind of behaviors and nations that approve of that behavior," says Benham. "Nations die as homosexuality becomes accepted."

A rare case of justice
Linda Henderson's not from Cleveland, but she's visited enough to know that our justice system is but slightly better than Somalia's. So when her son, an activist in the St. Hyacinth neighborhood, was savagely beaten in January, Henderson expected the legal fallout to be lengthy, very weird, and possibly involve a judge named Magoo who juggles bowling pins.

Instead, in a turn of events that historians will study for years, she found that justice was swift and unrelenting.

Last December, Henderson's son, 39-year-old Gary Scofinsky, decided to take Angelo Vaughn into his home near Slavic Village. Vaughn, 41, turned out to be a convicted murderer whose past wasn't quite behind him: He used a hammer to pound Scofinsky in the head while he slept, then made off with 400 bucks and a Chevy Cavalier ["Good Man Down," March 14].

Police quickly tracked down Vaughn, who was charged with attempted murder. Last week, Judge Kenneth Callahan sentenced him to 40 more years in the slam. With any luck, he'll spend his golden years getting shivved in the kidneys by a guy ironically named Tiny.

"It's a shame," says Henderson, apparently a tad more sensitive than Punch. "There's so much to live for, and this guy didn't care."

Her son, meanwhile, is re-teaching himself to walk, talk, and live on his own. "He's improving," she says. "We're nowhere near the end of the road, but he is improving."

Boneheaded threats
Michael Bernard Tucker is not happy with his phone. In the past few weeks, he's been getting a slew of calls from strangers with a beef.

The problem began with our June 6 story "The Odd Couple." It's the tale of East Cleveland cop Tiffany Cleveland's husband, Lesean Roberts, who was given life for peddling dope after being ratted out by an informant also named Michael Tucker.

Alas, Roberts' colleagues in the prestigious crack industry will never be confused with the physics faculty at Case, so they've been calling the wrong Michael Tucker with threats.

"I don't even know these people," says the Good Tucker, a 41-year-old father who runs some bars in East Cleveland. "I don't even know anything about it."

And that, boys and girls, provides us with today's teachable moment: In the current fast-paced world of professional thuggery, it's always wise to use proper due diligence before threatening someone.

Bad guy nabbed
Larry Zaslov, the man who weaseled his way into his Yiddish-speaking landlord's heart, then swindled more than $500,000 from his bank account ["Smooth Criminal," May 30], has been indicted on eight counts of theft, forgery, and falsification.

The prosecutor's office is delighted with the charges. Zaslov "took advantage of them when they were most vulnerable," says prosecutor Bill Mason. "Mr. Lebovits deserves justice and restitution of every penny stolen from him."

Lebovits' relatives are a bit less restrained in their thoughts. "I wish him to rot in hell," says nephew David Lebovich.

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