Cleveland FBI subpoenas documents from city hall; former Councilman Basheer Jones appears to be under a federal microscope

Published: Jul. 15, 2022 at 11:22 PM EDT

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - 19 News has learned that former Cleveland councilman and mayoral candidate Basheer Jones appears to be the focus of an FBI investigation.

A subpoena from the United States District Court in Cleveland was issued to the City of Cleveland’s Law Department on May 2nd and received on May 5th of 2022. The subpoena notes Cleveland City Hall is commanded to submit specific documents to a special agent with the FBI. 19 News has learned this is just one of several subpoenas sent to the city.

The demand for documents is for the time that now former ward 7 councilman Basheer Jones served as an elected office holder, from January 1, 2018, through January 3, 2022.

Blaine Griffin is the current President of Cleveland City Council and confirms the subpoena is related to his former colleague Basheer Jones, and vendors who have done business with the city through Community Development, “From what I’ve seen from being able to review it, there’s just a request for information about the interactions between the former council person and many of the people who have done business in the Hough area.”

The subpoena asks for records related to federal dollars in the form of Community Block Grant payments. The FBI wants documentation including payments, invoices, and cancelled checks from the city of Cleveland, verifying that 24 different agencies, organizations, and individuals, some of which are related to former councilman Jones.

Those organizations and individuals include King Management, The Basheer Jones Foundation, Basheer Jones Unlimited, and Mecca East, who is the Chief Operating Officer of the Salaam Clinic in Cleveland. 19 News spoke to East back in April when the clinic that provides free health care for the underprivileged, held a food drive during Ramadan for anyone in need. Jones was on videotape in attendance at the event.

19 News asked the FBI if former Councilman Basheer Jones is the target of an FBI investigation? Susan Licate, a Public Affairs Officer for the FBI Cleveland Division, said: “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.”

City Council President Griffin said he just recently learned of the subpoena but realizes the public can lose faith in public officials and the leadership of their government when things like this happen. That’s why he says Cleveland council is committed to being transparent at all times, including during this investigation, to news reporters and to the public.

Griffin said, “I’m unaware of what is the reason, or why, or if this is just a cursory review. I will caution everyone, this is still an allegation at this time. There has not been a formal charge rendered. So, I just want everyone to recognize that. I believe they’re doing an investigation, and this is America. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty.”

Former Councilman Basheer Jones did respond to a 19 News reporter’s request for comment, simply saying in a text message he has, “No comment at this time.”

Again, no one mentioned has been charged with any wrongdoing at this time.

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