Report: Columbus Mayor Coleman's Gun Stoppers program a complete failure; FBI investigating illegalities in Coleman's office

If reports from WBNS 10TV (CBS Columbus) and a whistleblower are accurate, Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman (D) may soon join the lengthy list (see here and here and here) of members of anti-gun extremist Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) to face serious charges.

From the report:

It was billed as a way to fight rising crime waves and get more guns off city streets and the city’s Gun Stoppers program was announced with much fan-fare.

But 10 Investigates recent review of the program, shows it’s unclear how many guns were taken off the street – if any.

According to the article, Mayor Coleman's Office introduced the Gun Stoppers program in 2010 utilizing a $50,000 federal grant. The grant paid for Gun Stoppers to be run jointly by the city and Crime Stoppers and gave cash rewards up to $1,000 for "tips that lead to an arrest and the confiscation of an illegal gun."

The program was brought back in the news recently, when former Crime Stoppers director Kevin Miles claimed: "I can tell you there wasn't a single gun turned in but I do know that they reported there was guns that were recovered with money from that program."

Using city, county and court records, 10 Investigates reviewed the program and found Gun Stoppers paid out a total of $19,000 to tipsters. The records, though, never listed any gun that was seized.

Police agency representatives associated with the tips told 10TV they were not directly involved with the program and said they have no records of guns associated with the Gun Stoppers program.

CrimeStoppers told the news station they don't have any information on guns collected by their Gun Stopper program. 10TV reports that they did provide a list of arrests made in connection to the tips, but that court records show that not all the crimes even involved guns.

One award was paid for information that led to the arrest of Michael P. Reilly. Reilly was charged with multiple counts of aggravated robbery and robbery. Court records, though, show the weapon used was a knife, scissors or sharp instrument.

Another case involving the arrest of Darrian T. Cordell, where a gun was found in a car stop. The trooper testified that he stopped the car because it was following too closely in the early morning hours.

And three tips paid out exceeded the program’s $1,000 cap. (Note: those payouts were for $3,000, $3,500 and $2,500.)

Case files show that some of the cases were where no guns were used in commission of the crime.

The report goes on to say that Columbus Public Safety's Deputy Director Dan Giangardella said he could not give an exact answer when asked how many guns were taken off Columbus streets through Gun Stoppers. “I don’t have an exact count for that. Dozens?”

Noting that Mayor Coleman once gave public congratulations for Gun Stoppers, 10TV reports that Giangardella described Gun Stoppers as only a "a mildly successful program.” In an email to 10TV, Giangardella admitted that the program was changed in 2011, more than a year in the running, so that it “no longer require confiscation of guns.” (It's must easier to claim a program's "mild success" if you move the goal posts once you realize it is failing.)

The Buckeye Firearms Association opposed the Gun Stoppers program since its beginning. Gerard Valentino with the Association’s board said, "This whole program is designed to take illegal guns off the street, yet their own actions show us it must not be that big of a problem because they're using the money inappropriately and for completely different issues."

Former Crime Stoppers director Kevin Miles told 10TV that FBI agents recently asked him about allegations of corruption inside Columbus City Hall.

Miles is quoted as saying he saw financial abuses in the Gun Stoppers program committed by Lee Roberts, who Buckeye Firearms Association exposed in 2012 as a MAIG staff member working in a tax-payer funded position created for him in the Columbus mayor's office (effectively using public dollars to lobby against citizens’ Second Amendment rights).

According to Miles, Roberts told him to spend the money on ads with a GLBT local magazine called Outlook Columbus. Miles told 10TV Outlook got the majority of Gun Stoppers ad dollars because they supported the mayor.

Buckeye Firearms Association has been reporting on corruption within Coleman's office for years.

Emails obtained by Buckeye Firearms Association and Media Trackers Ohio in 2012 revealed that Roberts and Coleman’s office conspired to use the deaths of three high school students to limit Second Amendment rights within hours of the February 2012 shootings at Chardon High School. The emails also revealed that Roberts also worked with staffers of then-New York Mayor Bloomberg to leverage the shooting of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords for new federal gun restrictions.

Coleman spokesman Daniel Williamson suggested in a Media Trackers interview that Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) and Coleman staffer R. Lee Roberts were not involved in lobbying legislators against the legislation. However, internal emails show that not only was Williamson aware of MAIG's active opposition to the bill, Williamson himself assisted in lobbying efforts. Contrary to Williamson's claims, the emails proved that Roberts spent months agitating against Ohio's Restaurant & Car Carry Rules Fix in 2011. After the bill passed, emails prove Roberts also conspired with Williamson to lobby Governor Kasich not to sign it.
It is not known whether reports of an FBI investigation effected Coleman's decision not to run for a fifth term.

Among the candidates seeking to replace him is the Democrat president of the Columbus City Council, Andrew Ginter.

Instead of expressing concern about the allegations, Ginter chose to attack the whistleblower and his claims.

"They seem a bit bizarre to me. And interesting to me they come about some 5 years after the fact. We all know of the situation with Mr. Miles departure from Columbus and the fact that some things were done under his watch with Crime Stoppers that kind of beg the question , why now and why in this type of approach?" said Ginther.

Ginter, who has received the endorsement of Coleman, stood at the mayor's side during the 2010 Gun Stoppers rollout.

Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Secretary, BFA PAC Vice Chairman, and an NRA-certified firearms instructor. He is the editor of, which received the Outdoor Writers of Ohio 2013 Supporting Member Award for Best Website.

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