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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Arbitrator Rules Michael Brelo Should Remain Fired For 2012 Police Chase and Shooting, But Five Other Officers Will Get Jobs Back

Posted By on Wed, Jun 14, 2017 at 12:57 PM

Michael Brelo.
  • Michael Brelo.
Eight months after six Cleveland police officers took their cases to arbitration after being fired for their actions during the police chase of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams that ended with both suspects dead in a barrage of 137 bullets, an arbitrator ruled this week that while Michael Brelo should remain fired, the other five officers will get their jobs back.

According to Cleveland.com, arbitrator William Heekin said that while the five officers were at fault that day, they had otherwise been good members of the force.

Mayor Jackson reacted, saying in a statement he agreed with Heekin's ruling on Brelo but not the others.

"We are pleased that the arbitrator confirmed the severity of the violations committed by the officers and that he upheld the termination of Officer Brelo and that he upheld the lengthy suspensions for the six officers who the City had not terminated," Jackson said. "We believe that the City's decision to terminate the other five officers was justified and should have been upheld. We acknowledge that the arbitrator concluded that those officers committed serious policy violations; however, we are reviewing our options regarding the officers whose terminations were not upheld."

Wilfredo Diaz, Brian Sabolik, Michael Farley, Christopher Ereg and Erin O'Donnell will be reinstated without back pay. A host of others still face suspensions and misdemeanor charges.

***

(Updated 10/18/16): Michael Brelo and five other officers who were fired by the city for their roles in the 2012 police chase that ended with police firing 137 bullets at Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams are trying to get their jobs back.

Their dismissals came nearly three years after the incident. Appeals were filed back in January, the day they were fired.

Brelo was the lone officer to be indicted by a grand jury with a felony. He was later acquitted by a judge. The other five fired officers are Wilfredo Diaz, Brian Sabolik, Michael Farley, Christopher Ereg and Erin O'Donnell. All six are currently in arbitration hearings with Cleveland, city officials told Cleveland.com.

A little historical perspective here, via that account, and a look forward:

Union president Steve Loomis previously called the firings "absolutely politically motivated and insane."

In 2013, the city handed down discipline to a dozen supervisors and 74 officers involved in the chase.

The supervisors that were fired had their jobs reinstated through the arbitration process. Other disciplinary actions against supervisors were lessened or completely rescinded.

Five supervisors still face misdemeanor criminal charges in connection with the case. 

***

(Original story 1/26/16): Michael Brelo and five other Cleveland police officers have been fired for their roles in the Nov. 29, 2012 police chase and shooting that resulted in the deaths of Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams. Six other officers will face suspensions ranging from 21-30 days.

Safety Director Michael McGrath (who was police chief at the time of the shooting) announced the disciplinary charges in a press conference Tuesday afternoon. He said he hoped the announcement would "bring closure" to the incident, at least on the city's end.

Sgt. James Chura outlined the administrative review of both the pursuit itself and the shooting.

"Why did it take so long?" Chura asked. "This incident was unprecedented. It took an equally unprecedented investigation...to reach an adequate appraisal."

The cascade of 137 shots was dramatized in a video on a model created by the County Prosecutor's office.

In a nine-minute narrative, the video explicated the actions of all 13 officers who discharged their weapons in the Heritage Middle School lot in East Cleveland. During the course of a 10.1 second window that night, 122 of the 137 shots were fired.

Criminal proceedings delayed the division's internal review. 

After a grand jury voted to indict officer Michael Brelo, and after he was subsequently acquitted in May, 2015, the police department began their administrative process to investigate the 13 officers.

The Critical Incident Review Committee that had examined the pursuit was re-convened to examine the shooting. The committee completed their review in September, 2015 and presented their findings to Chief Calvin Williams in a report. Williams concurred with their findings and recommended charges to Safety Director McGrath. (Any disciplinary action more severe than a 10-day suspension must be approved by the Safety Director).

McGrath agreed to charge all 13 officers, though dismissed a charge or two from many of the offending officers. Brelo, for instance, was charged on six counts (violating general police orders relative to the chase and firing his weapon). McGrath sustained four of them and dismissed two.

"It was very difficult," McGrath said, of the disciplinary decisions. "I arrived at my decision based on the Critical Incident Review Committee. [They] put their heart and soul into this to get it right... We did not go through the motions on this." 

Of the 13 officers, one retired in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Chief Calvin Williams said that the six suspended officers were still likely a long way from serving the community on the streets of Cleveland, but that he's confident training and protocol within the division has been sufficiently improved over the past three years that an event like this will not happen again. 

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Aliza Sherman's Attorney Sentenced to 180 Days in Jail, 350 Hours of Community Service

Posted By on Wed, May 24, 2017 at 2:10 PM

CCSO
  • CCSO
Update: Gregory Moore, the former divorce lawyer for Aliza Sherman who lied to Cleveland police in the course of the investigation into her homicide and who called in unrelated bomb threats to local courthouses, was sentenced by Judge John Sutula yesterday after pleading guilty to a felony charge of inducing panic and a misdemeanor charge stemming from lying to the cops.

Moore was dealt 180 days in jail — he faced up to three years. He'll serve 90 of them starting June 1 and then one week in jail each of the following 12 months. He'll also spend 350 hours on mandatory community service and be on probation for three years.

"You've taken everything an attorney stands for and turned it upside down," the judge told Moore, according to Cleveland.com.

***

(Updated 5/1/17): Gregory Moore, the attorney who was representing Aliza Sherman in her divorce proceedings before her murder, pleaded guilty today to charges stemming from alleged bomb threats he called in to the county courthouse in 2012 and from subsequent misleading of investigators.

Prosecutors have long said Moore was unprepared for the divorce trial, which was to kick off the day after Sherman's death. Thus the bomb threats.

Moore copped to one count of falsification and two counts of inducing panic.

Sherman's murder remains unsolved some five years later. Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers at 216-252-7463. A $50,000 reward has been offered.

***

(Original story 1/28/16): Aliza Sherman's divorce attorney, Gregory Moore, was indicted today on charges relating to her unsolved 2013 murder: tampering with evidence, telecommunications fraud, possessing criminal tools, obstructing official business, falsification — as well as other charges stemming from unrelated bomb threats phoned in to county courthouses in 2012.

Few leads have trickled in over the years since Sherman's murder. Today's indictment signals at least some movement in the case. 

On March 24, 2013, Sherman was supposed to meet Moore at his Erieview Plaza office. She was stabbed 11 times outside the building by an unidentified suspect. Moore had sent text messages to her phone before and after her murder indicating that he was in his office. Phone records and additional analysis show that he was not actually in his office at that time. He later lied to police about this fact. 

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Arrest Made in Connection With Double Murder at Warehouse District Apartment Building Earlier This Year

Posted By on Thu, Sep 15, 2016 at 1:59 PM

THEARCHERAPARTMENTS.COM
  • TheArcherApartments.com
Update: An arrest warrant was issued all the way back in February for James A. Johnson. Police had fingered him for the double murder of Brandon James and Rasheed Bandy in an apartment in the Archer Building in the Warehouse District.

Some seven months later, Johnson is finally under arrest, according to Cleveland.com.

Johnson was riding in the passenger seat of a car in Muskegon, Michigan this week. The car was pulled over for having improper plates. In the course of talking to the cops, Johnson gave them several fake names before fleeing. He was apprehended and when they ran his prints, the Cleveland warrant popped up.

He'll be extradited back here to face charges.

***

(Updated 2/18/16): Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for 29-year-old James A. Johnson of Shaker Heights in connection with the shootings at the Archer apartments in late January that left Brandon James and Rasheed Bandy dead.

Police are currently looking for Johnson now though the arrest warrant was actually issued the day after the shootings.

(h/t Cleveland.com)

***

Original story 1/22/16: Local newswires are cooking this morning with reports of a fatal shooting downtown at one of the town's swankier residential areas. The Archer Building is snug in the center of the Warehouse District on West 9th between Lakeside Avenue and St. Clair Ave. According to police, gunplay in the building left two dead in the early hours of Friday, and two suspects are still loose. 

At this point Cleveland police are being pretty tightfisted with the details. According to a statement released by CPD Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia, police initially responded to a report of a robbery at the building at 8:30 pm Thursday night. Officers located the victims in an 8th floor apartment — and apparently also spotted two suspects booking from the scene. Police are describing the suspects as black males. 

One of the victims was dead on the scene. The other was raced to Metro in critical condition. He was pronounced dead two hours later. Police have yet to release the names of the victims. 

Police are also being quiet on possible reasons for the downtown gunfire. Newsnet5, however, is reporting that police sources are saying a large quantity of drugs were found on the premise. Fox8 also says police have confirmed that a "significant amount of marijuana" was found in the apartment

We'll update this post as more details begin leaking out —starting with the names of the victims. (Update: Police have identified 35-year-old Rasheed Bandy as one of the victims.)

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Here Are the 240 Places That Applied to Stay Open Until 4 a.m. During the RNC

Posted By on Tue, May 10, 2016 at 2:48 PM

COURTESY PLATFORM BEER CO.
  • Courtesy Platform Beer Co.
Update: The RNC qualifies as a major event, and with that designation bars, restaurants and other businesses were allowed to apply for major event waiver permits to stay open until 4 a.m. during that oh-so-special week.

The city released the list of the 240 businesses that applied and were recommended by Cleveland. That full list, if you're already scoping out which of your favorite neighborhood haunts will be serving until the wee hours that week, can be found here. We're mildly surprised that not every bar in, say, Tremont and Ohio City, applied, but obviously that's a choice each purveyor made based on staffing and etc.

Now that the city has had its say, the Ohio Division of Liquor Control will approve (or deny) each individual applicant. They will do so by June 17.

Anyway, do check out the full list and if you're curious who applied but wasn't recommended by the city, the list is short: J Lue's Cocktails on St. Clair, Secrets Gentlemen's Club on Brookpark, and something called Blueprint with an address on Euclid Ave.

***

(Original story 1/19/16): A newly inked Ohio law will allow Republicans and Democrats and Trumpers and whoever else is in town to watch the RNC circus this summer to party well into the night during.

Bar and restaurant owners with liquor permits can access a waiver allowing alcohol service until 4 a.m. during major events. To qualify for the waiver, a bar or restaurant must be in Cuyahoga, Summit, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Portage or Medina counties.

The liquor license waiver isn't automatic, so anyone who wants to offer their liquor services during the convention must apply with their respective city before March 21. If the business is picked, city officials will add them to a list to be vetted by local police and sheriff departments by April 18. That list will be submitted to the Department of Liquor Control by May 18 and by June 17 the Division of Liquor Control will review the final list and issue the waivers.

So far, what may disqualify a bar or restaurant from serving booze is up to the discretion of the Ohio Division of Liquor Control.

The waiver can be used during the entire convention, which runs from Sunday, July 18 through Thursday, July 21.

Got all that? Yeah, you probably don't care.

It boils down to some bars being open til 4, and that's news to raise a glass to.

(Hat tip to WKYC)

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Investigation Into Julio Pino, Kent State History Professor, for Ties to ISIS Still Ongoing

Posted By on Tue, May 10, 2016 at 1:28 PM

VIA KENT STATE UNIVERSITY
  • via Kent State University
Update: Four months after Julio Pino burst onto national headlines — because combine a college professor with ISIS and everyone's gonna want a piece of that story — all is mostly quiet for Pino and Kent State.

The Beacon-Journal has a small non-update update on the story this week. Basically, Pino says the FBI hasn't been in contact with him and his spring classes went by swimmingly and without incident. Further, the ABJ reviewed public records from the university that were devoid of any complaints from students through the first semester and summer of last year of Pino recruiting students in any way. Despite the criticism and Pino's history, Kent State "declined to terminate or discipline him," the ABJ notes.

Special Agent Vicki Anderson, an FBI spokeswoman, said investigators are still looking into the accusations against Julio Pino, an outspoken Muslim convert with a history of anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian rhetoric.

“I don’t have anything to report on that just yet,” she said. “I’m sure we’ll put something out the moment it moves to the next step.”

***

(Original story 1/21/16): A Kent State University professor who has already mounted a track record of controversial statements is now being targeted by the feds. The investigation reportedly is looking for ties between Julio Pino, a KSU associate history professor, and ISIS, the psycho-death-cult-cum-terrorism-factory currently holding down a large chunk of Iraq and war-torn Syria. 

According to reports, first broken by the campus student newspaper, the FBI and Department of Homeland Security have been interviewing students and faculty around campus about Pino. The activity in question allegedly involves recruiting for the terrorist organization.

Pino has denied the charges. 

Considering some of the professor's more outlandish behavior over the last ten years, it's not really a shocker that he blipped on the government's radar. Pino — a former Fulbright Scholar and member of Phi Beta Kappa specializing in Latin American history and the third world — first drew campus ire in 2002 when he wrote a column in a campus newspaper eulogizing an 18-year-old suicide bomber. 

In 2007, Pino got his boss fired when the department head allowed Pino to take a six-week leave to go to the United Arab Emirates to learn Arabic. It was fully paid. Administrators fired the department head, saying he didn't follow protocol greenlighting Pino's trip, and reeled the professor back to campus earlier. 

But it was a 2011 incident that hammered Pino's reputation into place. The professor attended a lecture by an Israeli diplomat named Ishmael Khaldi. During the session, Pino shouted "Death to Isreal," and barded back and forth with the speaker. 

Now, reports from various media outlets say Pino is currently being investigated. Agents were on campus recently, talking with faculty and students. In an interview below with KentWired.com, the professor denies he has any ties to the group. 

Julio Pino (Full Interview) from KentWired.com on Vimeo.

As a tenured prof, Pino is still teaching — a development that's likely to get a mixed reaction from his pupils. According to RateMyProfessors.com, Pino has a B minus rating. The specific comments from students are pretty far-flung across the gamut. From: 

WORST professor I've ever had. stupidly unclear directions for essays which he doesn't even grade. bases papers on films but lectures the book?! inconsistent grading. pushes his personal views WAY too much. stay away from him. awful professor.

Dr. Pino is extremely knowledgeable about all history. He does not use powerpoint, but was definitely one of my favorite teachers I have had. He has his own stubborn views that may offend you. If you are not extremely easily offended, and can write a paper every two weeks, you are golden. No tests, but essays instead. His grading is inconsistent.

And this: 

Professor Pino is an outstanding teacher and has opened my eyes to the corporate raiders who have robbed future generations of everything Amerika has to give us as well as keeping the poor and diverse peoples in their place. We need more professor like him and I highly recommend him to all students who care about improving our society and future.

And here:
 
The worst class I have ever had. Stay away from him

We reached out to Pino yesterday via email for comment. He has yet to get back in touch. 

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Tri-C Announces Dates for 2016 JazzFest Cleveland (Updated)

Concert Announcement

Posted By on Thu, Feb 4, 2016 at 10:41 AM

jazzfestlogo.jpg
Cuyahoga Community College has just announced the full lineup of headlining acts for the 37th annual Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland, which takes place from June 23 to June 25 at Playhouse Square.

On Friday, June 24, keyboardist Chick Corea plays the Ohio Theatre, sax men David Sanborn and Maceo Parker perform at Connor Palace and funk act Big Sam’s Funky Nation plays Outcalt Theatre. On Saturday, June 25, instrumentalist Melissa Aldana teams up with singer Rosa Passos at Hanna Theatre, trumpeter Terence Blanchard brings his E-Collective to Ohio Theatre, trumpeter Dominick Farinacci plays an album release concert at Hanna Theatre, Contemporary Jazz Extravaganza: Lalah Hathaway, BWB and Brian Culbertson plays at Connor Palace, and ¡Cubanismo! takes over Outcalt Theatre.

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Continue reading »

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Third Man Records' Audio Social Dissent Tour Headed to Now That's Class (Updated)

Posted By on Tue, Feb 2, 2016 at 3:25 PM

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Third Man Records, the hip indie record label run by singer-guitarist Jack White (White Stripes, Raconteurs), ended 2015 by issuing three records of "articulate American punk, rock and noise": Wolf Eyes' I Am a Problem: Mind In Pieces; Timmy's Organism's Heartless Heathen; and VIDEO's New Immortals.

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