Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Tom Feran
By Tom Feran September 30, 2010

Tom Ganley's first video ad touts role in FBI investigation

Tom Ganley is the largest automobile dealer in Ohio, and the owner of other businesses including insurance, real estate, aviation, and finance companies. But it is a reference to his encounter with organized crime in the 1980s that opens the first TV ad in his GOP campaign for Congress against 13th district Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton:

"An organized crime syndicate was extorting money from his business, threatening his family, but he fought back and won the FBI's highest civilian award."

PolitiFact Ohio earlier gave Ganley a rating of Barely True rating for his claim, in a Sept. 13 interview with The Plain Dealer’s editorial board, that he took down the mob in Northeast Ohio.

That claim overstated his role.

Truth be told, though, we felt bad about putting a mark against Ganley’s reputation in what is, by all accounts, a laudable act: endangering himself in the interest of justice. He was instrumental in helping the Justice Department put several dangerous criminals behind bars.

We wondered whether his overstatement to the newspaper’s editorial board is how he has been portraying his role in the investigation to the public.

Before we get to what we found, we note, in the interest of transparency, that Ganley is a major advertiser in The Plain Dealer.

We did not find that Ganley has overstated his role in the investigation when speaking to the public, although others have. Generally, Ganley has portrayed his role the way he portrays it in his political ad: someone who helped the FBI with an investigation. Our reporting for the earlier PolitiFact item backs up what the TV ad says.

Articles in The Plain Dealer archives show that two organized crime figures -- former Teamsters Union leader John J. (Skip) Felice and Joseph C. Ilaqua -- were sent to prison by U.S. District Judge Alvin I. Krenzler in July 1983 after pleading guilty to conspiring to extort $10,000 and a car from Ganley in 1981 and 1982.

The indictment against Felice said he told Ganley in April 1981 that high ranking organized crime figures wanted Ganley killed, and that Felice could get the contract canceled in exchange for money. Ganley wore a wire when he met with the extortionists and asked questions at the FBI's request to help the bureau crack other cases, former FBI agents said.

"During this investigation, it became evident to these organized crime members that Mr. Ganley was cooperating with the FBI and that he would be testifying against them at trial," says a 2007 press release the FBI issued when it gave Ganley its Louis E. Peters Memorial Service Award. "This realization resulted in additional death threats directed at Mr. Ganley and his family. Mr. Ganley refused to be intimidated by these criminals and consented to having FBI agents live at his residence to provide security for himself and his family."

Retired FBI agents contacted by The Plain Dealer described Ganley’s actions as courageous and important to the FBI’s investigative strategy.

We rate the claim in his television ad to be True.

Featured Fact-check

Our Sources

Tom Ganley campaign ad, "Tom Ganley, An Introduction,", Sept.16, 2010

The Plain Dealer, July 16, 1983, "Felice given five years, $2,000 fine in extortion," by Harry Stainer.

The Plain Dealer, May 21, 1983, "Felice, Ilacqua are guilty in auto deal dealer extortion," by Harry Stainer

The Plain Dealer, Sept. 21, 1982, "2 charged in mob extortion," by Stephanie Saul

FBI Cleveland Division news release, "Thomas D. Ganley To Be Awarded the Louis E. Peters Memorial Service Award on September 20 in Orlando Florida by the FBI," Sept. 4, 2007
Interview with former FBI agent Carmen LoParo, Sept. 20, 2010

Interview with former FBI agent James Kennedy, Sept. 17, 2010

Interview with former FBI agent David Drab, Sept. 21, 2010

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Tom Feran

Tom Ganley's first video ad touts role in FBI investigation

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up