Last week members of the Steubenville Police Department along with agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation executed the search warrants on 8 locations throughout Jefferson County in what was reported to be raids resulting from an illegal gambling investigation initiated by Steubenville Police and Ohio BCI. An estimated $1.5 million was seized as a result of the coordinated raids.
What is odd is the lack of response by Jefferson County Prosecutor’s office and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department with regard to the raids. Why hasn’t the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office and Sheriff’s office congratulated Steubenville PD and BCI on a job well done? There have been so many other congratulatory butt slaps over the past 2 years when it comes to joint effort investigations and arrests. Why no congratulatory ticker tape this time?
The other obvious elephant in the room is the lack of shock and awe from locals regarding these busts. The general consensus among locals is that no one really sees the gambling as a problem because it is so entrenched in the culture that no one views it as against the law — it just is a way of life there. While reading on a few local forums and the WTOV9 Facebook fan site one gets the notion that there are far worse crimes in Steubenville that the locals want to be eradicated rather than the illegal gambling. In fact, some have even bragged that their bookie wasn’t “pinched” and they are still able to place bets.
Investigators say the crackdown was initiated by the Steubenville Police Department. “We received a request from Steubenville PD in September 2013 to look into gambling in the Steubenville – Jefferson County area,” Said Jamies Ciotti, Special Agent Supervisor, Ohio BCI.
“We’ve always known about the illegal gambling in Steubenville. Most citizens know about it – it’s all over. It takes a joint effort -BCI doing such a large scale operation,” said Chief Bill McCafferty, Steubenville Police Department.
Everyone in town knows a bookie or where to find illegal gambling. It is a generational issue that is part of the cultural fiber, and as such people are apathetic to whether it violates the law or not. As the veil of corruption is slowly being lifted in Steubenville there will be those that continue to fight against the sunshine that is illuminating a century old complacency when it comes to cherry-picking the law or protecting their own. Corruption has been part of the culture of Steubenville for many years, too. It has been a part of the town’s history for as far back as anyone can remember – even being the subject of a book written in 1947 called “Twelve Against the Underworld“. Twelve local ministers and priests attempted to cleanse their town of prostitution, gambling and corruption but obviously were unsuccessful at doing so.
Not much has changed since 1947. The present Sheriff of Jefferson County, Ohio has been in office for almost thirty years and was criminally indicted on corruption charges back in 1990. He also runs unopposed during election time. His brother is the chairman of the Democratic Party of Jefferson County and also plead guilty to racketeering charges over twenty years ago. Jane Hanlin has used her position as Prosecuting Attorney for the benefit of a private citizen when she testified on behalf of felon Branko Busick. Branko Busick was a former Steubenville High School athlete who was facing two to ten years for several violent offenses including that he pistol-whipped someone allegedly for gambling debts. Mrs. Hanlin testified as a character witness on Busick’s behalf and he got off with only probation. Mayor Mucci has had so many DUI’s that they should probably get him a designated driver as part of his salary.
Strange things are happening in Steubenville, and this time those things might be for the better. HUGE kudos to Chief McCafferty for being the guy who stopped being apathetic and did something about it.