Dirty council president. Dirty law firm. How Porter Wright Morris Arthur screwed a client.

CLEVELAND, OH – Two Russian oil and gas investors in Naples, Florida sued the law firm that employs Cleveland Council President Kevin Kelly’s for malpractice in 2017. One of the council president’s Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur “partners” let Oleg and Andrey Tolkachev invest $5 million in a real estate deal without telling them the client they’d advised them to invest with had been hit with huge claims and settlements.  Attorney W. Jeffrey Cecil is alleged to have fleeced the two Russians when he withheld the information.

The Tolkachevs, according to their claim in the Middle District Court of Florida, are in the “oil and gas” industry.  In the former Soviet nation led by President Vladimir Putin the Russian Federation contracts with his hand-picked vendors to manage government-controlled industries. 

The Tolkachev’s could be agents of the Russian government under the Foreign Agents Registration Act and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act if their oil and gas interests are connected to their homeland.  What Kelly’s Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur partners should have done was investigate their clients before they represented them. 

CIA files show Mikhail Gorbachev was Secretary General of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1986 when an Adolf Georgievich Tolkachev was executed under his administration as a spy for the CIA.  The Russian who spied for the CIA was born in 1927.  He had a son named Oleg Tolkachev who is currently an architect in Russia.  All of the projects connected to Kelly’s firm’s Florida investments with the Russias involved real estate developments.

A Russian engineer named Adolf Tolkachev spied against his own nation for the CIA and has a son who has the same name as a client of Cleveland council president Kevin Kelly’s law firm.

What Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur should have confirmed was if the 62-year-old Oleg Tolkachev in Florida is the same as the son of Adolf.  Published reports provide details that KGB Lt. Colonel Vladimir Nikolaevich Zaitsev ordered the Alpha spetsnaz group to keep Tolkachev’s arrest secret in order to feed the CIA disinformation for 10 months before he was executed.  Tolkachev’s wife’s life and that of their son, Oleg, were spared.  He allegedly kept his spy activities hidden from them.

CIA files show photos of Russian agents arresting Adolf Tolkachev before his trial and execution.

If Oleg Tolkachev is the son of a Russian executed for betraying his nation, and he’s in this nation doing the Russian government’s business, Kelly’s firm should have registered their representation of the two Russian aliens with the U.S. Department of Justice.   The firm’s relationship with Tolkachev would have placed tight controls on Kelly as a public official not to disclose any “national defense” information to the Russian nationals through the firm’s lawyers during their foreign representation of the possible son of a counter-espionage agent.  Doing so would place Cleveland’s council president in violation of the Espionage Act of 1917.

In the exhibits the Tolkachev’s submitted to the court in their complaint through their Russian American malpractice attorney, Warren Trazenfeld, a copy of the engagement letter the council president’s firm signed was attached.  It explained “the scope of our representation will be to represent your investments and interests in the United States.”   It was clear to Kelly’s partner’s in their contract’s language that the two Tolkachevs were not citizens of the United States and they were representing foreign nationals.  Records show a Russian address of 50 1 Obskaya St. Novosibirsk for Oleg Tolkachev.

The March 2017 engagement letter Porter Wright Morris & Arthur forwarded to two Russian aliens expresses knowledge they knew they were representing foreign interests.

The way Trazenfeld described Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur’s representation should alarm every client who’s ever trusted the council president and his associates to handle legal transactions and investments.  It’s like a law firm full of vote-suppressing, council-ordinance-rigging, duty-exceeding Kelly’s.  This writer filed a criminal complaint against Kelly that was referred to the city’s prosecutor whose budget he controlled.  It obstructively went nowhere.

Clients with ties to foreign governments require federal registration with the U.S. Department of Justice. An historical search of all Foreign Agent Registration Act registrants shows none for council president Kevin Kelly’s law firm.

Trazenfeld painted Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur’s Florida-office attorney, Cecil,  in the light of someone who was ruthlessly greed-driven, unethical and dishonest for the scheme he and lawyers and agents of the firm ran on him; and it was a good one.

The Tolkachev’s had money and Kelly’s Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur colleagues in Florida handled deals for another real estate client, Frank J. Rosinus, they knew had $17,943,806.84 in real court-decided claims against him.  Without disclosing the nearly $18 million in claims against Rosinus, the council president’s law firm advised the two Russian aliens to dump $4.7 million in several real estate and financing entities he controlled.  Partners who were supposed to add money to get cuts of the deal told Cecil they didn’t have it; but he kept the “no money” information from the Tolkachevs.

The Tolkachevs claim they had to wire $4,781,200 of the funds invested to a Porter Wright Morris & Arthur they controlled to disburse the money.   At the time Andrey Tolkachev invested $1 million in Academ AT, LLC to obtain a 50 percent interest in RYD International, and was given a 20 percent interest in an entity known as Lake Juliana Holdings,neither Tolkachev knew  the other entities and Lighthouse Capital II were managed by Rosinus.  Cecil hadn’t said a word.

The Tolkachevs claimed Rosinus advised Cecil that he was unable to provide the cash necessary to acquire the property, a fact Cecil never disclosed to Andrey Tolkachev.  Cecil prepared the purchase money mortgage resulting in Andrey Tolkachev having unknowingly contributed 100% of the cash necessary to close the deal. 

In their claim the Tolkachev’s said they “would not have invested in any Rosinus associated transaction or entity had they known the information about Rosinus which was withheld from them by the Defendants, or all of the facts surrounding the various transactions.”

Eric Jonathan Brewer

Cleveland's most influential journalist and East Cleveland's most successful mayor is an East Saint Louis, Illinois native whose father led the city's petition drive in 1969 to elect the first black mayor in 1971. Eric is an old-school investigative reporter whose 40-year body of editorial work has been demonstrably effective. No local journalist is feared or respected more.

Trained in newspaper publishing by the legendary Call & Post Publisher William Otis Walker in 1978 when it was the nation's 5th largest Black-owned publication, Eric has published and edited 13 local, regional and statewide publications across Ohio. Adding to his publishing and reporting resume is Eric's career in government. Eric served as the city's highest paid part-time Special Assistant to ex-Cleveland Mayor Michael R. White. He served as Chief of Staff to ex-East Cleveland Mayor Emmanuel Onunwor; and Chief of Communications to the late George James in his capacity as the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority's first Black executive director. Eric was appointed to serve as a member of the state's Financial Planning & Supervision Commission to guide the East Cleveland school district out of fiscal emergency and $20 million deficit. Former U.S. HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson told Eric in his D.C. office he was the only mayor in the nation simultaneously-managing a municipal block grant program. Eric wrote the city's $2.2 million Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant application. A HUD Inspector General audit of his management of the block grant program resulted in "zero" audit findings.

As a newspaper publisher, Eric has used his insider's detailed knowledge of government and his publications to lead the FBI and state prosecutors to investigations that resulted in criminal prosecutions of well-known elected officials in Ohio; and have helped realign Cleveland's political landscape with the defeat of candidates and issues he's exposed. Eric's stories led to the indictments of the late Governor George Voinovich's brother, Paul Voinovich of the V Group, and four associates. He asked the FBI to investigate the mayor he'd served as chief of staff for public corruption; and testified in three federal trials for the prosecution. He forced former Cuyahoga County Coroner Dr. Elizabeth Balraj to admit her investigations of police killings were fraudulent; and to issue notices to local police that her investigators would control police killing investigations. Eric's current work has resulted in Cuyahoga County Judge John Russo accepting the criminal complaint he guided an activist to file against 24 civil rights-violating police officers in the city he once led for operating without valid peace officer credentials. USA Today reporters picked up on Eric's police credentials reporting from his social media page and made it national.

Eric is the author of of his first book, "Fight Police License Plate Spying," which examines the FBI and local police misuse of the National Crime Information Center criminal records history database. An accomplished trumpet player and singer whose friendship with Duke Fakir of the Four Tops resulted in his singing the show's closing song, "Can't Help Myself": Curtis Sliwa of New York's Guardian Angels counts Eric among his founding chapter leaders from the early 1980's role as an Ohio organizer of over 300 volunteer crime fighters in Cleveland, Columbus and Youngstown, Ohio. For his work as a young man Eric was recognized by Cleveland's Urban League as it's 1983 Young Man of the Year.

Known in Cleveland for his encyclopedic knowledge of government and history, and intimately-connected with the region's players, every local major media outlet in Cleveland has picked up on one of Eric's stories since 1979. There is no mainstream newspaper, television or radio outlet in Cleveland that does not include an interview with Eric Jonathan Brewer in its archives over the past 40 years.


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