Massive Cri­­­minal Enterprise - CDCs are inherently corrupt -pass through Fed monies to Developers

Submitted by lmcshane on Sun, 01/26/2014 - 01:30.
Somewhere­­­­­ along the way, many of us at REALNEO, became aware of a real estate scheme that was hatched many years ago-using OPM-other people's money. For anyone, who might tune into REALNEO and write-off or marginalize the content here, please take a minute to review my personal history, which has led me to the conclusion that there is a massive criminal enterprise at work here.
My own experience starts in 1992 when I returned to Cleveland after graduate studies in landscape architecture.  I chose to live in Tremont because I could afford the rent at the time and it was close to the Metroparks where I worked part-time in planning.  I also waited tables to earn the bulk of my income. I became aware of the local community development corporation through my neighbor, who worked as a community organizer, where he had volunteered me for a garden project.  My neighbor would later be canned by that CDC – Tremont West.  And, I would start working there as a contract employee – to help organize their databases and apply for grants (backstory – CDCs did not exist until the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977-which began the process of allowing federal dollars-OPM- to flow into CLE).  Much of Tremont was already cleared for redevelopment by arson - and the City of Cleveland assembled these plots along W. 7th especially - through the City of Cleveland Land Bank (engineered by Frangos) - Progressive Urban Real Estate with Keith Brown and Mike McBride began promotion of a project that was to connect Tremont with the National Park - the Tremont Ridge Project - for new housing designed by City Architecture.
At the time, the CDC depended on funding from Frangos, then Paulenske and Nelson Cintron. Nelson became vilified because he pulled some of his TWDC funding.  I didn’t understand all of the dynamics then, but realized later that the council person drives the CDC in their wards.  I was aware at the time that there was an influence from Gus Frangos –and Jim Rokakis with their proposal for a Greektown in Cleveland in the vicinity of Annunciation Church.  At the time, there was still a small Greek presence in the neighborhood with remnant immigrant residents near the church, a coffee shop and a Greek restaurant where Parallax is now.  Also, Jim Alex ran the much despised asphalt plant in the Flats and residents protested the fumes. 
1993-While at TWDC, I quit my Metroparks job and decided to take on some hours working part-time as a sub at Cleveland Public Library.  I later applied to an opening at a non-profit called the Cuyahoga Remedial Action Plan – housed at the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency.
1995/1996- Tremont began to get “hot’ in the real estate market – mostly w/restaurants that appealed to folks who did not live in the neighborhood.  Edison’s was one of the first to take off as a destination for 20-30 year old crowd, later Bohemia helped with the revitalization, but also brought drug scene to the neighborhood.  Miracle’s was around in 80s when I worked at Metro and still in the neighborhood when I came back in 1992, Dempsey’s and the various ethnic hangouts still catered to families who worked in the flats and for LTV.­­­­  My landlord Dave Perkowski and his brother  built up a sizeable real estate inventory of rental properties.  Several other investors in the neighborhood made out w/rentals to the growing demand for housing for 20-30 year olds.  It continues to this day – with appeal of Lincoln Park, especially.
1997-After my stint at TWDC as an employee – I was asked by Emily Lipovan to serve on the board and I ran and was elected.  This became an unbearable situation, as Emily did not like me asking too many questions on the operation of the organization.  I was especially disturbed when TWDC began to negotiate transfer of a property on Tremont Ave. to a property owner who was delinquent in taxes on properties throughout the city.  The more I asked for records and accountability – the more I became ostracized and it culminated in an attack session at one board meeting.  I resigned.  But, I was very much aware then that some dirty deals were occurring – and that I was lucky to get away from the machinations on that board.
So – I gave up working with neighborhood groups until I bought a house in the Brooklyn Centre neighborhood in 1999.  By then, I had quit the non-profit job in lieu of a more stable and rewarding library career.  I managed to avoid politics until 2006 when my old nemesis Emily Lipovan became installed in my neighborhood as the council person, appointed by Merle Gordon, who had been appointed by Jim Rokakis.  Emily was so schooled in the “game” that I did not want her as my rep – in hind sight – I may have been better off if she was made our council rep, but then I thought Brian Cummins was a more “honest” person.  Nelson Cintron’s aide Rick Nagin also  got into the race – and this caused a change up in the council dynamics – as Nelson hired Rick’s wife and then lost his seat in the election to Joe Santiago – an openly gay council rep who was close friends with Emily Lipovan and Rosemary Vinci.
Also, at this time, I became incensed to learn that the local arts organization Art House, headed up by Merle Gordon’s friend Sheryl Hoffman – had determined that they would demolish the historic Wirth House.  Community development corporation dollars were used to purchase this property in 1999. I used the forum I had started at REALNEO to complain about the dirty dealings involving federal monies.  I was grateful that Norm Roulet had started the site REALNEO – it seemed like a forward idea at the time and I continue to think his efforts were stymied in Northeast Ohio, because Norm Roulet did try to usher in government accountability. I initiated Section 106 process and through efforts of several people, we were able to keep the organization from demolishing the property using the public monies allocated through Old Brooklyn Development Corporation (while Cummins was CDC Directory and Gordon was Council Rep).   The election between Emily Lipovan and Brian Cummins – was an upset w/Brian winning.  Emily was appointed to Council clerk position and she later filed a harassment complaint against Martin Sweeney.  Sheryl Hoffman and her husband Abe Bruckman (shuffled between CDCs - OBDC board, Clark-Metro, Ohio City) were able to sell their house to HUD for an inflated amount - during the housing crisis - while other properties languished and were flipped to LLCs.
As Brian took office – I was at first impressed by his commitment and mainly impressed by the energy of his assistant and her husband.  The Hamms – Johanna and Darren – did many good things including helping seniors paint their homes and organizing the CSA drive and sale of fresh farm items.  The first term was hopeful – even as the housing bubble burst and foreclosures became evident.
Demolitions started occurring and this is where I became suspicious of the history of this practice given the chain of council persons in my ward – from Rokakis, Gordon to Lipovan- and then Brian Cummins.  Johanna Hamm started to become very strange when I would question her on the mystery demos occurring in my neighborhood starting with a house on Riverside Ave.  She and her husband also championed the development of NRP housing on Denison – this even after she knew of the failed history of proposals and environmental concerns on that site under Rokakis and under Merle Gordon. This has now mushroomed to the condemnation of our neighborhood public park - WC Reed Field.
The most significant demo to occur during this time – 2008 – was the demolition of Frank Giglio’s house in Tremont.  I knew Frank Giglio peripherally through my time in Tremont and I knew he was different – but I did not feel it was right for government to strip him of his home. I sensed an injustice and this is what aligned me with Lily Miller and Angel In Ward 14 – aka Dianna Hill, who also began to write up her experiences in my ward.  The demolition of shoddy Aberdeen Homes begun under Rokakis-Gordon also raised a major ­­flag on the operations of Building and Housing Development and forgiveness of liens for demolitons.  Shady building inspectors were also being exposed at this time, includingd Richard Huberty, who  condemned Frank Giglio's property.
Brian Cummins had to run again in 2010 -this time with a redistricted ward that pitted him against  Joe Santiago .  In the primary – Joe Santiago was eliminated and Brian barely squeezed a victory pitted against Rick Nagin.  This evidently pushed Brian over to the dark side as he did not really bother anymore to conceal some level of collaboration with Jim Rokakis – appearing with his aide when the then treasurer appeared at the City Club.  I did not know it at the time – but Dianna and Lily both had experience in my neighborhood with politics under Nelson Cintron and Rick Nagin. We all started following the information being published in the Plain Dealer regarding the Dimora-Russo investigation, the Board of Revision, and formation of the Land Bank.  Many comments published at this time - revealed a pattern of civil rights issues with tax lien sales- I archived comments - about the practice in East Cleveland. The PD deleted these comments, but I later confirmed that former Mayor Eric Brewer posted this information.
Dianna had extensive real estate knowledge and Lily had extensive legal experience and an understanding  of the Housing Court system. We all began to suspect more than the corruption revealed by the Russo and Dimora investigation.  Valuations at Board of Revision were starting to become suspicious and there was some investigation by the Plain Dealer, but that abruptly stopped as FBI closed in on Dimora and Russo.  Sale of property tax liens, including sale of Frank Giglio’s property led Lily Miller to investigate exclusive sale of tax liens by Cuyahoga County to Plymouth Park Tax Services.
These liens and whole practice had been initiated by then treasurer Jim Rokakis and then deputy-treasurer Gus Frangos, who also headed up the Board of Revision.  Why this never raised a red flag in the PD investigation seemed very odd to say the least. Especially, as many “developers” under Rokakis/Frangos were left alone to accumulate massive tax lien debts – later revealed by the FitzGerald administration as the “Dirty Dozen” of tax scofflaws.  Recently, the sale of tax liens has been scrutinized by the Washington Post – offering some validity to my suspicions as the story relied heavily on the research provided by REALNEO’s Lily Miller.
Creation of the Land Bank has only allowed this massive criminal enterprise to continue – the acquisition and dealing of properties with past liens “wited” out – just as the evaluations were manipulated under Frangos while he served as deputy treasurer.  HUD monies are a factor as many of the properties acquired through tax lien sales have been rented out to Section 8.  The obvious beneficiaries of this massive criminal enterprise include Forest City and Safeguard properties.  So that is where I am in this story.  I continue to believe that collusion has played a part in the set up of this massive real estate scheme.

(still editting - 1/28/2014)

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Very Cool image of The Terminal Tower

 Is that the solder's monument in the foreground?    What's the overhanging structure?


Bus overhang

Thanks Jeff - Terminal Tower, Soldiers and Sailors and the other structure is the Bus structure overhang -

You will edit indefinitely....

Love your simplified regurgitation of the raw reality in summary format...Excellent.... 

It's nice to realize that some folks followed enough to regurgitate it all so concisely.....none of our work was in vain if one person got the big picture we screamed and looked like lunatics attempted to make the rest of the disenfranchised voters and citizens to wake up and engage... 


Sadly; this town has run amuck........sadly; it's not a place to raise your kids. Its not a place for "family"'s a nightmare here....grand efforts by the police are undermined by grandiose plans of the leadership to divide and's all so damn political. Sorry; I am simply not good at eating asses to deal with issues...the raw reality is the raw reality. 


Our local government thrives off the low income quotas it drives from a system of welfare encircled entitlement programs. Bottton line; you got so many folks who are at one extreme or the other that's it's next to impossible to meet in the middle anymore. 


Great changes have occurred and perhaps the weak minded will get their rights protected a little more these days as the police and the players of all the "NOT FOR PROFIT" worlds realize how their survival is codependent on the government raping the souls of the little people......and keeping their thumb on those folks. 

Old school folks will forever have generational and sentimental stories about all the glory days they knew in this town when it boomed... yet; the old is getting torn down and the new comes as our lives go on........We are left with remnants to consider.......

This local government was never invested in its was invested in self glory and self realizations of corruption and much more beyond the average hillbilly's wildest imagination....So the results are a town full of HUSSLERS.............of all races, religions, colors, and so forth....The Husslers will survive......while the vultures thrive off of their hussles. 

Too many examples to list; but so few give a damn in the average folks lanes that it is simply disheartening. 

An average day in Cleveland's ghetto hoods revolves around food banks, 211 for Help requests, children services, criminal activity, mental illness, chasing highs on illicit substances, an underground prostitution network that is far beyond most people's wildest imagination, and AIDS epidemic that continues to escalate with people not taking precautions, and lots of beautiful parks full of gay sex where I refuse to worry about taking my kids to get violated. Our kids are imprisoned into fenced yards; if they are lucky to go into them considering they require supervision every minute when there are predators and registered sex offenders within a couple hundred feet of every direction. Ha; riding a bike alone is something we can never allow our current and future generations to do in this town. But-most will say=this is everywhere.........


What a crazy world we've arrived at by trusting public servants to do the ethical and right things. The entire concept that ANYONE in a government position has a sense of JOB SECURITY and DOUBLE DIPPING is the most disgraceful perpetuated tax fraud upon the publc at large I can enumerate because it means that the leadership did NOT plan effectively. It means that they set themselves up for endless benefits at the cost of the public at large. They are like rapists. Take it and take it and take..........and smile in big photo ops to sustain their positions when it's all said and done....what ever happened to DAMIAN from demos in the City of Cleveland...???? SMH.


I could exhaust hours herein; all done for now. Have a blessed day. 


 BTW: EDITING SHALL FOREVER CONTINUE...>WE COULD NOT LIVE LONG ENOUGH TO REVEAL EVERY SINGLE INCIDENT the corruption has resulted in along the line.....but one thing's for sure; it's destroyed more lives than any of it has helped in an honest method. 


Toot a loo. 

Always Appreciative, "ANGELnWard14"

Stark and Brian Cummins-& CDC Cover Girls

Crocker Park's  Stark is the developer behind the Hispanic Village concept Brian Cummins is trying to float on West 25th -

How has Brian Cummins worked to benefit Stark Enterprises??

Oh, the evil web - all council reps are beholden to developers - who can conveniently camouflage their donations by giving to the council reps' pet CDCs with their pet employees.... who can then go on to bigger and brighter careers... 

Cleveland's West Side Market manager, Amanda Dempsey, moving to Mitchell's Ice Cream

Say it ain't so....JOE... (I am so old, I can remember when Emily Lipovan was the "CDC" Cover Girl)


Stark con artists plays CLE for a chump

Stark is the shadow developer behind proposed "Villa Hispana" in the W. 25th Pearl Rd. Corridor - hence useless council rep, Brian Cummins, is bending over backwards to serve this developer, who joins the long list of TIF recipients in NEO - including Panzica, Rubin/Coral Group and Mitch Schneider/First Interstate.  


We used to have all the amenities we need in our little forgotten part of town, but thanks to geniuses at City Hall - namely Chris Warren - along with council sychophants - we have nothing.  Schneider poached our grocery Aldis for Steelyard.  Good luck all you downtown residents - here's how TIF financing works:


"University Circle Inc. is giving the companies a year to secure tenants and funding. Rubin said the developers will contribute $30 million to the deal, while seeking out public and private financing. It's likely that Intesa would require tax-increment financing, an arrangement that uses anticipated growth in property-tax revenues from a project to pay for construction."


Not even trendy, University Circle can seem to find the formula to keep restaurant and services that residents need, like grocery in their neighborhood.  Remember Food Co-op??

Tremont UNRAVELING - it all goes back to Giglio's house

And, the demos just keep giving back... priceless...hatched in that little ole Greek coffee shop in Tremont in the 1990s... I lived through it.  Who controls Lightning Demolition???...I can remember Brian Cummins' assistant Johanna Hamm throwing a hissy fit when I asked her why there was such a push to demo properties... from Housing Court, Building and Housing, CDCs - there is something in it for everyone!!


After following the news these past couple of weeks, especially this evening, my mind quickly reverted to a time not so long ago when some of our distinguished councilmen (Cimperman for one) were warned: "be careful not to bite the dog that feeds you." And, "You build it and they will come - robbers, thieves, car-jackers, druggies, shooters, etc."

Also, after watching tonight's news, I almost choked - handing out violation notices to business with no proper COs, no proper fire sprinkling systems...... What I'd like to know is how the Board of Zoning Appeals has gotten away with granting permission and variances to so many businesses that were not up to code? - clearly public safety issues.

As far as I'm concerned, CDC's are just fronts for "their mob dollars at work."

Glad to see Ted Thelander still on the job.

Greektown Coffee Shop

Folks in Tremont know that a lot of shady real estate plans were hatched out of that little Greek Coffee Shop on W. 14th/Fairfield - What a surprise - Rokakis' father ran the joint - mentioned at 2:25 of this interview:


Law OKs speedier foreclosures

Plain Dealer, The (Cleveland, OH) - Wednesday, May 17, 2006 

Author: Thomas Ott, Plain Dealer Reporter


A new state law will allow counties to more quickly seize many abandoned properties.  

The law will let county boards of revision instead of the courts rule on foreclosure of abandoned property for back taxes.  


This is when Rokakis-Treasurer and Frangos-Board of Revision could really start giving away properties.  Cleveland Housing Network in Tremont was major player receiving properties from Rokakis-Frangos for the lease-purchase program.  

Nowadays, CHN can't make a dime on their lease-purchase houses - so CHN is working the permanent-supportive housing gig.


Ironically,  CHN are frequent flyers in Housing Court for the deplorable condition of their lease-purchase homes, which get trashed, abandoned etc. and Safeguard Properties actually reported the news:

City of Cleveland Vacant Properties

A recent report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer discusses vacant properties and the role of lending institutions and investors associated with the properties.

Big banks head list of urban deadbeats 

Bills for boardups, cleanups go unpaid

Cleveland has for years billed property owners after boarding up their vacant houses, mowing their untended lawns and carting trash from their garbage-strewn lots. 

And for years, the vast majority of the bills have been ignored. In 2005, for example, the city spent more than $2.6 million cutting grass and cleaning lots, but recovered only $750,000, or about 28 percent. 

As of last month, landlords still owed the nation's poorest big city a combined $4 million for tending their property, an analysis of city records shows. That's more than twice this year's budget for demolishing and boarding up vacant buildings and nearly three times what the city spent in 2005 helping needy seniors repair their homes. 

The worst offenders, by the city's reckoning, include some of the world's biggest names in banking - JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Wells Fargo or subsidiaries of the financial institutions. 

Others contributing to the problem include the Cleveland Housing Network and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, two organizations that are supposed to help the city fight neighborhood blight. 

Cleveland has typically sought to recoup the money by filing liens on the properties that were tended by city workers. But that means the city doesn't get paid until the houses are sold. So this year, the city has hired a lawyer to collect on the oldest bills, some of which date back years. 

"They have the ability to pay, so they should pay," said Finance Director Sharon Dumas. "We need to recover our costs, and they need to become good civic citizens particularly because these abandoned homes are a quality of life issue for the neighborhoods." 

Most of the financial institutions dispute the city's claims. They argue that Cleveland tries to make them pay for properties they no longer own or have never owned. 

But the Cuyahoga County auditor's office reported few problems placing the liens, an indication there is little confusion about who owns these properties. Dumas said the city worked closely with the county, verifying owners before filing the liens. 

In past years, City Council members and others complained that the city wasn't meticulous about finding property owners and frequently missed the September deadline for filing liens. By the time the liens were filed the following year, the property had been sold. 

The city's high foreclosure rate is a major reason that the institutions that grant or insure mortgages owe the most, city officials said. During the foreclosure process, ownership often isn't clear, meaning the city has to dig through county records to find the actual owner of a structure or lot. 

But many of the banks and mortgage companies contend that the city still does a sloppy job in finding the real owners. They complain that Cleveland often labels them as the owners, when they are only trustees. 

"A corporate trustee for mortgage-backed securities where there is a pool of investors only serves an administrative role, but has no ownership stake," said Kevin Heine, a spokesman for the Bank of New York. 

Heine said the bank owns none of the properties that the city says it does, including 11 structures that the city boarded up. He said the bank once owned one, but sold it. It's a trustee for four others, but the companies that service those loans are responsible for resolving the issue with the city, he said. 

A spokesman for Deutsche Bank, which the city has billed for 22 properties, said he would look into whether any of the bank's subsidiaries owned the properties. 

HUD denied owning any of the 12 properties for which it was billed. A spokesman said HUD used to own two and had insured mortgages on three others that were later paid off by their owners. 

The city said it had boarded or cut grass at 19 Wells Fargo properties, but a spokeswoman said the company had owned only two, but sold them. 

Several companies said they are willing to work with the city. 

Cleveland Housing Network head Rob Curry reported by e-mail that the nonprofit had not received bills for all of the properties. He said the agency either paid or appealed the bills it received. 

"CHN is a good citizen," Curry wrote. "We take our mission seriously and strive to pay our bills, including and especially those from the city of Cleveland." 

Fannie Mae, a government-chartered buyer and guarantor of home mortgages, is committed to paying and is working with the city to see how much it owes, spokesman Alfred King said. 

JPMorganChase - which owns Bank One - denied owning most of the properties for which it was billed. Spokeswoman Mary Kay Bean said the bank did serve as a trustee for several of the properties. The bank wants to resolve "concerns about property the bank has repossessed," she said. 

Councilman Robert White said he believes the city lists are accurate. Several of the homes are clustered in his Union-Miles ward, causing blight and despair among the residents. 

"They need to step up to the plate and be truthful about what they own, so that they can become a team with the city in solving this issue," he said. 

Housing Court Judge Raymond Pianka said he is checking the city's list of unpaid bills against owners with criminal cases before the court, making sure their cases can't move forward until they pay their bills. He said he was looking at doing something similar for landlords filing evictions. 

Councilman Jay Westbrook, who has complained in the past about the city's lax collection methods, said he is optimistic about the changes. 

"It is about time the city is making the people who own the assets take responsibility," he said.

To view the online article, please click here

Piano Factory? 3026 Scranton

$ 386,511.57 Unpaid taxes - condemned building transferred from Cuyahoga County Land Bank to the Mancini Group LLC - supposedly for market-rate housing...??

The Land Bank history and relationship with CHN starts w/Tremont

Gus Frangos legislated the City of Cleveland "Land Bank" - Tremont West would transfer vacant properties to the new Cleveland Housing Network.  See story buried in

Massive Criminal Enterprise - Land Bank Demos and Transfers

From: Sarah Norman 

Sent: Friday, May 27, 2016 11:46 AM

To: 'Laura McShane' 

Subject: public records request


Dear Ms. McShane:

We have obtained the information responsive to your public records request.  The file containing the information is, itself, too large for transmission by email.  For that reason, the information has been placed in a DropBox account.




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Frangos family - the on-going swindle

Frangos is vice president and legal counsel for The Frangos Group, which operates 20 parking lots in Cleveland under the name USA Parking Systems.

Last week, Cleveland 19 aired an investigative report featuring undercover video of Frangos and other USA Parking employees charging customers $40 per vehicle to park in the illegal lot near Progressive Field during the Indians playoff run.

In addition to not having a license to operate or proper signage as required by law, the parking lot on Sumner Avenue does not have the fencing, landscaping, paving and striping, as required by the city of Cleveland.

We've been told USA Parking Systems has been using the vacant property as an overflow lot during Indians game since last year, but apparently no one at City Hall noticed until September