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Federal investigation with ties to former Cleveland City Councilman Basheer Jones widens

Basheer Jones
Posted at 3:09 PM, Jul 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-20 14:28:19-04

CLEVELAND — News 5 investigators have obtained a subpoena issued by the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio sent to the Cleveland Law Department regarding a federal investigation into nonprofits, some of which are associated with former city councilman Basheer Jones.

The document, dated May 5, ordered the city to submit any and all physical and electronic records pertaining to the Famicos Foundation and Lexington Bell involving the dates of Jan. 1, 2018 to Jan. 3, 2022. The subpoena states the city is to provide any documents and records pertaining to any Community Development Block Grant draw requests made by either of the two listed entities.

According to John Anoliefo, executive director of Famicos Foundation, FBI agents showed up at Famicos Foundation's office on Friday morning with a subpoena. The subpoena seeks documents on individuals associated with Famicos Foundation during Basheer Jones' term as Ward 7 councilman, Anoliefo said.

Famicos Foundation Executive Director John Anoliefo.jpg
Famicos Foundation Executive Director John Anoliefo

Anoliefo said the foundation will cooperate fully over the course of the next couple of weeks to have the documents ready by the early August deadline.

When asked if he believed the foundation had done anything wrong, Anoliefo said, "To the best of my knowledge I don't think so."

The law department was also tasked in the subpoena with providing payment invoices and other financial records associated with the following entities for the same time period:

  • Raise the Bar Tutoring
  • Sierra McCoy
  • King Management
  • Mecca East
  • Neighborhood Solutions
  • Oronde East
  • Imani Early Learning Academy
  • The Genesis Group and Associates
  • Empire Development and Consulting
  • Imani Wellness
  • Imani Mission
  • Imani's Faith
  • Royalty Real Estate Services
  • Steinberg Enterprises
  • The Basheer Jones Foundation
  • Basheer Jones Unlimited
  • Abdul Malik
  • Wesley Carter
  • The Real Black Friday
  • Carl Horton
  • Jarrod Strong
  • Radio One
  • Carlos Anderson
  • Linda Thomas Jones

You can view the subpoena below:

Fed Subpoena Cleveland Records by Wews WebStaff on Scribd

The subpoena, which was marked as "do not disclose," was released to News 5 by the city, which issued the following statement.

"We strongly support law enforcement, the secrecy of grand jury proceedings, and the rights of uncharged suspects.  We want to make sure that there is never interference with any criminal investigation.

The grand jury subpoena specifically orders “Do not disclose the existence of this subpoena to the individual or any third party.”  

The Law Department carefully considered its obligations to support and protect confidential law enforcement investigations as well as the public’s interest in disclosure. 

The Law Department conducted legal research and conferred with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio and the FBI. 

Following these conversations, and expedited legal review, we are providing the requested document.

The information requested in the subpoena has been provided to the FBI."

Cleveland City Council President Blaine Griffin told News 5 he learned about the subpoena on Thursday evening.

"I am aware of an FBI grand jury subpoena sent to the City of Cleveland concerning agencies, organizations and individuals who are associated with former member of City Council Basheer Jones. The request is primarily for Community Development Block Grant information that is handled by the administration. Council will, of course, provide any information or documents requested by the FBI," Griffin said in a statement.

When News 5 spoke to Griffin, he added, "They said it was a councilperson and that the people described in the subpoena and in the document, it sounded like it was councilman Jones. But I don't believe from what I understand and what has been reported to me so far that his name has not come up, but most of the institutions and activities that they're looking for in the subpoena, do look like they're looking into activities around Ward 7, and he was the councilperson at that time."

Griffin said he's known Jones since Jones was in high school.

"Listen, none of us want to see anyone, you know, in a situation where they are in these kinds of situations. But it's important that the public, that every time we deal with the public, that we hold all of our elected officials to a very high standard."

Griffin said he has spoken to Jones and his family since learning of the subpoena last night.

"Just shared with him he's in my prayers. He and his family. I hope everything works out, but once again, all of us elected officials have to be held at a higher standard," Griffin said.

News 5 requested information from the FBI regarding the investigation. The agency issued the following statement:

"The FBI reviews allegations of violations of federal law or criminal conduct for their merit and, when warranted, conducts further investigation. We are unable to comment further at this time."

News 5 has reached out to Jones for comment.

The Real Black Friday sent the following statement to News 5 on Wednesday.

“The Real Black Friday was started in 2015 to help promote, bring awareness, and provide exposure and access to minority owned small businesses, while promoting the greatness of Cleveland and Northeastern Ohio. Also, we have committed to performing countless hours of community service, providing educational and networking opportunities to entrepreneurs to keep them inspired and motivated while on their entrepreneurial journey locally and nationally.

The Real Black Friday has not been contacted by anyone from law enforcement, and has not received a subpoena, but if either of those events occur, The Real Black Friday is prepared to fully cooperate.”

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