Full disclosure, I first met, and started to do work for Brian Higgins around 2010, when he opened the Sidebar, first in the 130 W. 2nd tower, and then in the old Pacchia location in the Oregon District. He is a fellow veteran, paratrooper, and one of my closest friends. That being said, I’m as interested in truth as you should be, and as someone who has been around him through the last 11 years of turmoil, I’m trying to share my interpretation of the truth.
Brian Higgins is either the most unlucky person you’ll ever meet, or, he’s a hardened criminal mastermind. A mortician by training, he’s also a master of hospitality, listening and compassion. He was there for me when both my parents died, and knew exactly what to say. Probably comes with the training, but, it’s also just the way he’s built. When it comes to insurance claims, he seems to have a lot of them- and if I was an underwriter, I’d probably steer clear- a break in at the restaurant, not one, but two fish tanks leaking in his home, a classic VW Beetle up in flames, a house fire. Like I said, unlucky when it comes to insurance things. However, I’ve also been to the casino with him, and watched him parlay $200 into $4000 playing blackjack for a few hours.
When I first met him, he’d already lost the contract to pick up deceased bodies in Chicago. He was living large in Dayton, living in a mansion, driving a Range Rover, and hanging out at his restaurant with Dave Chappelle. He then lost the body pickup contract in Montgomery County- which wasn’t near as lucrative as the Chicago deal. It turned out, he’d had a side business with one of the top employees in the Coroners office here- and even though he claimed it never got off the ground, the optics sucked.
Brian had been trying to tell anyone who would listen that the Chicago contract had been illegally awarded to a shell company- run by a registered sex offender pedophile, John Klaczak. No one seemed to care, and despite the FBI going after powerful Alderman Edmund Burke for pay to play, and Higgins assertion that he’d refused to pay Burke’s vig, which caused him to lose the contract, no one cared.
Somewhere in between all this, he got connected to another veteran, Mike Marshall who owned a company that supposedly could do home repairs- and they were talking about setting up an Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business to bid on government contracts. He introduced Marshall to Dayton City Commissioner Joey Williams and Dayton Human Relations Council head Roshawn Winburn– and they all plotted to get government demolition contracts. Williams and Winburn accepted a patio and cash respectfully, and Higgins- well, Marshall never fixed the damage from the fish tank leak that he was contracted to do.
Supposedly, unbeknownst to Higgins, this is how the FBI found him- because Marshall was a “confidential informant” for them. No one seems to care that Marshall has a long track record of being a low level criminal- and crappy drywall guy. Marshall actually bragged to a friend of mine that he was a CI- over 7 years ago in her backyard. She was a journalist at the Dayton Daily at the time- and didn’t say anything. Note to criminals working for the feds: don’t tell journalists you are a CI.
She wasn’t Lynn Hulsey, who wrote a sloppy story in today’s paper about Higgin’s case. She’s already been told by Higgins’ lawyers to print a retraction for part of it: there are no charges in the Second Superseding indictment for wire fraud. But the real issue is that the Feds are trying to charge Higgins for revealing that their CI is a crook- who ripped him off. Higgins filed in County Court against Marshall for not fixing his house- for which he was paid in full. That money, probably was what was used to build Williams a new patio. The reality is, even if Higgins did defraud the insurance company- that’s not the FBI’s job to enforce- it’s a civil matter between the insurance company and Higgins.
The only notable thing about this whole “culture of corruption” investigation by the feds is that they only seem to find Black folks and Steve Rauch guilty– but only the Black folks go to prison. Rauch pays a fine and gets to keep the old Dayton Daily News Building he screwed up the demolition on- and no one at the city is held responsible for the millions that were wasted- or disappeared in the “Student Suites” project on S. Ludlow.
As I’ve said before- it takes 3 votes on the city commission to approve anything- and if Williams got money for United Demolition on his own, something is really wrong in City Hall.
In today’s story- with mistakes- you should wonder how Higgins, who never got paid a dime from the city- still remains a high priority case for Brent Tabacchi, who seems to have a personal stake in this. His relationship with Tony Cicero, who was Higgins first attorney, and also a business partner of Higgins- should have been reason for Tabacchi to step out of this in the first place. There is also a questionable misdated letter that’s floating around that seems to misrepresent what happened in a discussion between Higgins and Tabacchi over a possible settlement discussion last year (the letter showed up in 2020 and was dated Jan 2021- as if we all write letters in the future). There are serious issues with how the FBI manages interviews- where they seem to trust their memory- and don’t run cameras or recording devices, but, that’s for another investigation.
Here’s Hulsey’s summation of what’s going on- with it’s factual errors:
One defendant, businessman Brian Higgins, remains to be tried in the federal investigation of Dayton region public corruption after prosecutors racked up guilty pleas from three individuals and two companies.
Documents filed in federal court in recent weeks outline some of the evidence prosecutors intend to use when Higgins, 49, of Dayton, faces trial on March 29 before U.S. District Court Judge Thomas M. Rose.
He faces three counts of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud and two counts of tampering with a witness, according to an indictment filed in December that replaces the two previous indictments.
Higgins previously pleaded not guilty to the three counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud but has not entered pleas on the new indictment.
Higgins allegedly defrauded insurance company Assurant out of more than $100,000 by falsely claiming that the money was being used to repair damage from a leaking fish tank on a home he co-owned on Meeker Creek Drive in Dayton. Instead prosecutors claim Higgins used the insurance money at a casino, and to pay for a planned restaurant and his phone bill.
Higgins allegedly sought assistance from a business identified in the indictment as Company A to conceal diversion of the insurance money for personal use.
Federal prosecutors recently filed motions seeking to introduce evidence, much of which his defense argues should not be admitted. Hearings on those motions are scheduled for March 10.
Higgins “inadvertently” came to the FBI’s attention in 2014 during its investigation of public corruption allegations in the Dayton region, according to prosecutors….
After Higgins learned through the mandatory evidence discovery process that Individuals A and B were witnesses in his case, prosecutors say he retaliated against them by filing a civil lawsuit claiming breach of contract and attempting to depose them.
“Detailing a scheme to sue and silence a complainant, this recording is probative of Mr. Higgins’ true intentions — namely, to harass and to retaliate — when he filed his March 2020 lawsuit against two government witnesses,” the motion says…..
The witnesses’ names are are not included in court documents but Higgins said Mike Marshall and Scott Waters, owners of United Demolition Excavation and Site Management of Dayton, were the witnesses against him.
Higgins filed a civil lawsuit against the men and United Demolition in Montgomery County Common Pleas Court in March 2020 and that case is pending.
Marshall and Waters have declined comment.
A Dayton Daily News investigation found that Higgins introduced Marshall to former Dayton City Commissioner Joey D. Williams, who then accepted a bribe in return for helping United Demolition get city contracts.
The company did such poor work that the city withheld payment on those contracts.
Williams was one of the seven people and two companies charged in the federal investigation, dubbed Operation Demolished Integrity.
Judge Rose seems to be willing to entertain this three ring circus for a bit longer, while Tabacchi and the DOJ seem to be unable to indict anyone else in this corrupt city. No one at Wright State has been indicted for the “misplacement” of $130M and the destruction of a critical institution. No one has looked into how United Demolition got a contract in the first place- or how Steve Rauch has made so much money from the city for so long- by tearing down everything in sight. The whole Schwind/Dayton Daily News/Student Suites deal is a spectacle of failure- and one they have to be aware of- yet- nothing. Millions at stake- and they got Williams for a $40K patio, Winburn for $6K of cash in a sack, and…
In the meantime, obviously, none of us are safe, while Brian Higgins is running the streets as Public Enemy Number 1.