Ohio Politicians Use Bribes, Schemes To Get Revolver From Police Custody
News-Democrat via Knight Ridder
During wrangling over how to get a .38-caliber revolver out of police custody, city politicians looked for bribes and cooked up fraud schemes, according to testimony Wednesday in federal court.
Illegal immigrant and former city businessman Ayoub "Dave" Qattoum, who faced deportation if the gun was traced to him, testified that these same politicians regularly came to his store at 2501 Louisiana St. and helped themselves without paying.
Qattoum has pleaded guilty and has agreed to testify for the prosecution in the obstruction and perjury trial of former Police Chief Ron Matthews.
Qattoum testified that besides asking Matthews, his attempts to get the pistol returned included:
Bribing Councilman and city Democratic boss Charlie Powell by returning personal checks that Powell had written for cash at Qattoum's convenience store. Powell, who is awaiting sentencing on a federal vote fraud conviction and is no longer on the council, could not be reached for comment.
Conspiring with Kelvin Ellis, former director of regulatory affairs for the city, in a scheme that was not carried out to demolish 10 derelict houses, replace the homes using a federal grant to the city. The houses would then be sold for double and the difference split between Ellis and Qattoum. In return, Qattoum said Ellis would use his influence to get the pistol back.
Ellis is being held in federal custody following his conviction on vote fraud counts and his guilty pleas to tax evasion and obstruction of justice.
Powell, Ellis and Councilman Eddie Jackson regularly filled up their shopping bags without paying, Qattoum stated. He testified that he was told Jackson was the key in getting Matthews to release the gun, which was never returned. It is in federal custody.
Jackson, who has not been charged with any crime, has said he won't comment about the trial.
Matthews is charged with accepting $1,200 of a $1,500 total payment from Qattoum to prevent the pistol from being seized. Federal immigration officials wanted to use the firearm to help deport Qattoum, a Palestinian, following Qattoum's arrest. Matthews is also charged with lying to a grand jury.
When arrested in August 2004, Qattoum was an auxiliary police officer on a special anti-drug team who allegedly fought with a regular city officer during an arrest. He testified he was also a felon who could not legally possess firearms.
Qattoum was arrested for interfering with the officer and released without having to appear before a judge. His pistol was seized as evidence and immigration officials later contacted him.
Worried about deportation, Qattoum testified that he met with Matthews at the downtown MetroLink station where Matthews worked part time as a security guard. He said Matthews told him the pistol was in his squad car's trunk.
"He assured me that the INS (the former Immigration and Naturalization Service) was not going to get the gun. He told me that," Qattoum testified.
Matthews' attorney, Stephen Welby, played portions of undercover voice tapes and one videotape made with the help of former Deputy Police Chief Rudy McIntosh, who was working undercover for the FBI.
In several of these, McIntosh is heard saying that Matthews would not talk about the gun.
But under further questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Goldsmith, Qattoum said he talked almost daily with Matthews about the weapon's return.
At one point, McIntosh, who did not testify, states on a tape that he can get the gun returned for $1,500 but that Qattoum could ask no questions about how this was accomplished. Qattoum said he paid the money to McIntosh the next day.
East St. Louis Police Detective Mattalue Ellis, Kelvin Ellis' daughter-in-law, testified that she was called in to investigate Qattoum's arrest last year. She said she verified that Qattoum was a felon and amassed a large case file that she intended to bring to the office of the St. Clair County State's Attorney.
But several days after the arrest, Mattalue Ellis said she was warned not to make any copies of the report and to bring all her records on Qattoum to a superior's office.
Mattalue Ellis, who said she went ahead anyway and photocopied her Qattoum case files, testified that Matthews and Detective Ken Berry were at the meeting.
She testified that Matthews angrily ordered her to turn over all her records on the case because it was going to be handled "in house." She said she complied.
Damn! I had no idea Ohio was so crooked.
Ohio might be crooked or not--but either way, this actually all happened in East St. Louis IL, not Ohio.
Geography nazi dug up a 10 day old necropost.
Hey buddy, just back off!!
The proud Democratic politicos of East St Louis have worked very hard to establish a grand history of corruption of the highest order, and no podunk bureaucratic pickpockets from Ohio is gonna take the credit for it.
There are a lot of funny stories about corruption in E. St Louis, mostly from around the first time Carl Officer was mayor (he's mayor again now). It was a wonderfully humorous romp; you outsiders don't know what you missed. I kept saying that someday I'd write a book about it.
Some of my favorites:
.....the city was very poor, basically broke. The police car radios began to break down, and there was no money to fix them. Police had to find pay-phones and carry change to communicate with the dispatcher.
.....eventually the city police department only had one functioning marked vehicle, and the police chief at the time refused to let patrol officers use it. Instead he used it as his personal car (to & from work) and kept it parked in front of the police department all day long. He felt that it was necessary to convey a certain professionalism. Meanwhile, police officers were asked to use their own cars for patrols.
.....Around this time the city had to cut back on police shifts because they couldn't afford to pay them--but Mayor Carl Officer used to visit local strip clubs, accompanied by four police / bodyguards--brandishing Uzi's. In strip clubs. And yes--the bodyguards and the Uzis were paid for with city money.
.....a local board of trustees was in charge of running the community college in the city. At one point they had to begin turning student applicants away because they did not have enough money to hire instructors--but they kept all the janitors on staff and employed full-time. The janitors were all related to the people on the board of trustees.
.....at one point reporters for the newspaper discovered that the guy in charge of the city department of streets and roads was not doing that job. Instead he was running his own trash and tree removal business. Using city dept. of streets employees, and city equipment, on the hours that they were supposed to be doing city work.
, , , and it goes on and on. I swear on my testicles this is all true.
Another one I recall as a favorite, not political corruption but still strange:
This older guy goes outside his house one day to take out the trash, and he has a German Shepard named "Goofytroops". The dog trots off for a couple minutes and returns with a human skull in its mouth. The guy decides that he doesn't want to get involved with the matter at all, so he throws the skull behind his garage on the edge of his property and forgets about it.
Within a few days the neighborhood kids had found the skull, and kicked it around for a couple weeks.
.....Literally kicked it around in the street, like a soccer ball.
And the story got around to all the kids at the school. A teacher hears the story, asks the kids for some details and then calls the county police about it (by this time the county and state police are trading-off patrolling E. St Louis, because the city's own police no longer can do it effectively). A few parents heard about it from their kids as well but they all just assumed that it had to be something else. The county police go out and recover it, and it really is a human skull, but by this time the facial bones were so damaged that it was not useful to do any reconstruction on.
The moral of this story is: don't give your dog a stupid name.
I told you that New Orleans is so corrupt. This is why we have got to let that shit hole south east La. go back to the ocean. Ohh wait a second.....
East St Louis is such a shithole.