Michael Horne
The Roundup

More OIC – George Connections

By - Nov 15th, 2004 12:00 pm

Although the Gary George – OIC-GM connections are well documented, particularly those that have led to the convictions of George, Mark Sostarich and Carl Gee, recently-released audit information and other source documents indicate that perhaps the OIC-George connection needs to be further investigated.

Nobody is accusing anybody of wrongdoing, but perhaps investigators should dig a little deeper into the dealings of George and those connected with him, if only to remove any hint of suspicion from settling on the mantle of the innocent.

Take, for instance, the relationship between Todd Robert Murphy, OIC-GM and Gary George.

Murphy was recently relieved of his Public Relations contract with OIC-GM, and was replaced by Martin Schreiber and Associates.

The recent audit of the OIC-GM accounts indicated that payments made by OIC-GM to TRM Marketing Consultants, Murphy’s firm, were “unallowable expenses,” according to Paul Steiber of the State of Wisconsin.

His review included two months during which Murphy received $4,000 per month from OIC-GM. Was this a “cushy consulting job,” as Leon Todd has suggested? Todd said the Murphy-planted cover story about OIC-GM that appeared in the Shepherd Express (and, interestingly, in newspapers in the African-American community) was “not enough” to save him his job.

According to the audit, OIC-GM was not authorized to hire a public relations consultant with W2 funds. The Ethics Board did not have a complete accounting of the amount of money Murphy’s firm was paid over the years. The board was investigating “direct” payments, and Murphy’s were considered “indirect.”

According to John Becker of the Ethics Board, the payments to Todd Robert Murphy’s firm “were not something we focused on.” Nor has the board “seen any checks,” from OIC-GM to Murphy, he said.

One wonders if the State of Wisconsin Ethics Board should have done a better job reviewing its own documents, for the Statements of Economic Interests filed by George for the years 1999-2001 show that George received more than $1,000 per year from Murphy’s firm. It would be interesting to know how much exactly per year Murphy sent to George, and what he got in exchange.

George also reported receiving funds from Petrie and Stocking, the firm that employed Mark Sostarich, who gave George kickbacks from OIC funds.

George also received money from Coleman & Williams, Ltd., an accounting firm. Coleman & Williams also received money from OIC – to conduct an audit of the OIC books.

Isn’t it odd that an accounting firm that received money from OIC-GM would also, coincidentally, be sending more than $1,000 per year to George, who was systematically swindling OIC-GM out of money, with the connivance of Carl Gee, the group’s director, and Mark Sostarich, the Petrie and Stocking lawyer?

Bill Coleman, of the accounting firm, said the relationship was quite innocent, and that he had hired Gary George to do unspecified legal work for his firm.

Since many aspects of attorney-client relationships are privileged, we’ll have to take his word for it.

Still, workers at the Ethics Board, the United States Attorney’s office and the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office say they are taking a fresh look at the mutual connections between OIC, Gary George and others. Greg Hanstad of the United States Attorney’s office asked to be faxed copies of the Statement of Economic Interests George had filed with the State Ethics Board listing Murphy.

Todd Robert Murphy did not respond to repeated requests for his explanation. Tyrone Dumas, more than seven days ago, promised to respond to a request for information on OIC’s dealings with Murphy. Nor did Martin Schreiber’s office respond to the identical request for information, despite having been given ample time to do so.

The public demands an explanation of the many connections, and an accounting of the public funds that may have been involved.

Dumas says he has a 120-day plan to reinvigorate OIC-GM and return it to its original mission. He should begin with a thorough explanation of what his agency has been up to over the years.

Orlando’s Deli Has New Home

As you know, I have been interested in the fate of Orlando’s Deli, which was having some landlord-tenant difficulties. It was quite a standoff, with both the landlord and tenant claiming that each was the worst the other had ever dealt with.

Good news for one and all, Maria Orlando has moved her shop into the old Aveni’s Italian Specialties Store, 1664 N. Van Buren. Maria was there late Saturday evening, exhausted after loading up her new store with equipment, displays and food. She said she bought the place lock, stock and barrel, and it came loaded. The place, formerly Busalacchi’s, is huge, and is filled floor-to-ceiling with baking pans, racks, dough mixers and any number of other cuisine artifacts. She could probably take up large-scale catering if she has a whim, and this is a woman with a whim of iron.

Shepherd Forgets Something

The Shepherd Express features its Readers’ Choice awards this issue, with a particularly spare and attractive cover. If you look closely (or even from a distance) you will see that something is missing – the production people forgot to include the paper’s nameplate on the cover. I hear Louis Fortis just laughed off the mistake, which would indicate it was probably his.

Don Hoffman Returns

Don Hoffman used to work for the School Board in the job now held by Roseann St. Aubin. Then he teamed up with Bo Black for a short-lived television program, and had an idea to sell discount theatre tickets at the Shops of Grand Avenue. All along, he restored a building on Brady Street.

Now he has returned as the impresario of “Q,” which is proposed to be a gay newspaper – something this community has been without for about a year. He will team up with Carole Wehner, the real estate agent who ran against Ald. Mike D’Amato last year. Wehner’s name is also on the FOR SALE sign in front of Hoffman’s building at 911 E. Brady Street.

The money behind the project will come from Nancy Beutner Meeks, another real estate agent who says she really missed the print ads to the gay community that the gay newspapers used to bring her. Beutner’s brother Jeff is the food reviewer for the Shepherd Express.

More Interesting News

Dr. Eckhart Grohmann has bought a pile of medical paintings to donate to Milwaukee School of Engineering. Grohman’s collection, “Man at Work,” featuring industrial scenes, is in the MSOE permanent collection, curated by John Kopmeier. The medical paintings are a natural fit for MSOE’s school of nursing. The school also probably purchased the old Federal Reserve Bank of Milwaukee building at the northeast corner of Broadway and State Streets. It could be the new home of the campus artworks. … Marilyn Marcione is no longer a reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, but you might still see her byline there. She jumped ship from the daily paper and now writes, from Milwaukee, for the Associated Press. Toward the end of her career at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, she traveled with Tommy Thompson to investigate AIDS in Africa.

Her series never ran. Managing Editor George Stanley, who seems to be squeamish about things like AIDS and gay sex, asked her to “localize” the story. The “localized” version ran. … The crummy 1960’s façade is being scraped off the old First Bank building at 201 W. Wisconsin Avenue. The structure actually dates to the World War I era, and is of poured cement construction.

Another Kennedy GYP

Straight from the mailbox, here is a letter from Ralph Greenberg, of Washington:

Hello Mr. Horne,

I’ve been following your articles about the case of James Kennedy.
I myself purchased a Miro print on eBay from an antique dealer in Florida.
After considerable effort, I determined that it was a fake. The antique
dealer told me that he purchased the print from James Kennedy of
Northbrook. This antique dealer has agreed to refund my purchase price.
I’ve suggested to him that he may be able to get some restitution if he
contacts the officials who are prosecuting Kennedy. I’m wondering if
you could suggest who to contact and how one should proceed with this.

Sincerely yours,
Ralph Greenberg

Milwaukeeworld.com passed this information on to Assistant District Attorney Kurt Benkley, who is prosecuting James Kennedy for numerous counts of forgery. (Use our Google search bar for previous stories about Kennedy.)

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