Sunday, October 05, 2003

Corrupt Empowerment Zones & Terrorism?

Leave it Howard Wilkinson to write about the story beneath the story. Franco Wantsala is wanted as part of the crime ring fronting stolen merchandise at local corner markets. Mr. Wantsala is the staff accountant for the Cincinnati Empowerment Corporation which is the local agency that awards funds to entities in empowerment zones. This “little” connection might give the boycotters something to crow about, assuming they are paying attention and don’t jump to this man’s defense out of knee-jerk reaction.

Wilkinson was able to get a high ranking authority, Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, to honestly comment on the crime ring's link to terrorism:
Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, whose Organized Crime Investigations Commission launched the probe nearly two years ago, said it was not at all clear that Saleh and his alleged co-conspirators were funneling money to Middle East terrorists.

"There is no hard evidence of that; there is just hard suspicion,'' said Petro. "That's something for the feds to investigate. We were investigating an organized criminal activity."
I wonder who locally was pushing the terrorism connections? The original Enquirer story has this reference to terrorism:
Federal authorities are following up on the $37 million to see if it funded any terrorism, Humphries said. Officials here believe it did, Chief Tom Streicher said, but have no proof.
The Post reported Streicher's direction quote on the link to terrorism:
"We can document that money is being sent to the Middle East," Streicher said, adding there is a "strong suspicion" the money is being used to fund terrorism. He acknowledges, though, "there is nothing concrete -- yet."
This quote is presumably why the Post used this headline for the article, "Theft ring, terrorism linked." Since when does "suspicion" mean a link? AG Petro said there is no hard evidence, so basically these guys are guessing terrorism is involved. If there really was terrorism involved, where are the National news stories on this issue with a press conference from John Ashcroft? Now there is still the report from an ex-wife of one of the accused were she says, "I think they're involved in terrorism, I've always have." Who tipped WCPO off as to location of this ex-wife? They had very little time to get this story since the men were only arrest on Thursday and the story is filed on Friday, complete with a "shaded" video clip. Now, WCOP could have the fastest staff in the world, but I would bet someone in the CPD or Prosecutor’s office let a name slip.

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