Connect with us

Crime

Actual’s new CEO breaks silence amid sexual assault investigation

614now

Published

on

Update: The new Actual Brewing CEO has broken the silence since the former CEO has stepped down amid several sexual assault allegations.

“Though we have been quiet online today, we have not been ignoring your voices, words, and thoughts,” wrote new CEO Nicole Felter.

Felter goes on to attempt to separate Actual from the owner and man accused, Fred Lee.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

“Mr. Lee no longer has any role with the company, and we have begun the process of removing him from his minority ownership position. Actual Brewing is and has always been about more than one person. It consists of over 35 wonderful, hard-working, and innocent individuals. The brewery was built and supported by many good people over many years. Dozens of people are currently involved with the brewery as employees and investors, and we are committed to preserving the brand, the product, and our dedication to brewing excellent beer for our customers.”

Twice, Felter acknowledged the severity of the claims lodged against Lee and said she,her employees, and investors are “prepared to cooperate in any official investigation that may be undertaken.”

Felter closed by saying the brand is committed to supporting women and promising to continue Actual’s mission to produce “premium” beer and embrace the “scientific and independent spirit” that inspires them.


02/6/2018: Amid a sea of sexual assault accusations, Actual Brewing owner Fred Lee will be stepping down as CEO, effective immediately, though he maintains his innocence.

Columbus Alive broke the story today with key accounts from accuser and former Actual employee Natalie Phillips.

Phillips told Alive that Lee began assaulting her in late summer 2018, soon after she accepted a sales rep position. She said they were out celebrating with food and drinks. They ended up back at the east side brewery where she retired to what the employees dubbed the “sleep it off” room. She said she woke up in the middle of the night with Lee on top of her, his hand down her pants.

She was able to ward him off.

The next alleged incident happened in September 2018 when Phillips was finalizing her paperwork at Actual. Lee suggested another celebration with a group of people. Phillips obliged. The group enjoyed drinks over dinner and then afterwards at a bar. Phillips next recollection of the night was Lee on top of her, having sex with her inside the Actual taproom.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

Phillips blamed herself for what happened, reports Alive. As a single mother, she stayed with Actual so that she could provide for her daughter.

A third incident happened while the two were traveling in her vehicle on October 11. Alive reports Lee’s wife, Mira, had asked that Phillips give him a ride home. While stuck in rush hour traffic, Phillips told Alive that Lee started rubbing between her legs and showing his penis.

On Monday, Oct. 15, Phillips said she reported the assaults to a co-worker at Actual, who elevated it to head brewery and de facto chief operating officer Chris Moore, reports Alive. Moore then met with Phillips to confirm the allegations before filing a formal complaint to Actual’s advisory board, which includes John Estep and Kyle Andrews, and Lee. Alive reports Estep and Andrews unsuccessfully tried to oust Lee from the brewery. In support of Phillips, Moore, who started at Actual in September 2013, resigned from the company.

Lee’s attorney, provided this email statement to Alive:

“Fred Lee denies that he forced himself upon anyone at any time,” Settina wrote. “The claims leveled against Fred are unfounded and dubious at best. If anyone has such a claim, let them come forward to defend that accusation in a court of law.”

Phillips is one of eight women who spoke with Alive about how they have been victimized by Lee’s assault and/or harassment. Alive also talked with three representatives of companies that Actual used to work with, but have since ceased because of Lee’s behavior (Yellow Brick Pizza and Hills Market Downtown to name a few), four former Actual employees who have witnessed Lee’s behavior, and 10 people who were told about Lee’s behavior directly from his accusers.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

Actual’s advisory board said it is conducting an investigation into the allegations. In a staff-wide email, Lee’s wife and Actual co-owner Mira Lee announced that Lee would be stepping down as CEO “out of concern for the impact that the accusations and investigation will surely have on livelihoods and day-to-day responsibilities of our 37 team members. […] while the bulk of these claims are entirely unsubstantiated, we have to listen when people tell us that the corporate culture of Actual Brewing has not been comfortable and welcoming to everyone,”

Lee’s attorney provided this statement in response to Alive’s request for comment on the staff email:

“It should be made clear, Mr. Lee is only stepping down to focus his effort on defending his reputation against the false and scurrilous accusations leveled against him. The decision to step down during this time is in no way an admission of guilt to any accusation of sexual assault or harassment.”

Nicole Felter will be taking over as acting CEO of the brewery while Lee will maintain ownership. Lee opened Actual in 2012.

For more details and accounts of Lee’s sexual abuse, visit Columbusalive.com.

Continue Reading

Crime

TBT: The Short North Posse – Columbus’ most notorious gang

614Now

Published

on

To look at the Short North in 2019, it’s hard to imagine that it was once the stomping grounds of one of the most notorious and violent street gangs in Columbus history. Though the area is hardly free from crime today, nothing matches the scope and intensity of the offenses brought to bear on the neighborhood by the Short North Posse in the 1990s.

For those unaware of the Posse and its reputation, Columbus Monthly once called the nationally-known street gang “the biggest, baddest, gun-totingest, drug-slingingest, most murderous bunch in town.” The group’s activities were serious enough to draw the attention of local and federal authorities, resulting in over 60 arrests of posse members, many of which carried hefty sentences.

According to court records, the Short North Posse was formed by a group of cocaine dealers who wanted to carve out an area of Columbus as their own turf – the area just north of downtown Columbus. Like any gang, the Posse offered protection to its members while keeping rival gangs and drug dealers at bay.

Though its members were eventually proven guilty of everything from drug charges to racketeering and murder, some claim The Short North Posse were simply administering their own brand of street justice in a neighborhood that had long been neglected by polite society.

Utilizing undercover detectives and covert drug stings, Columbus Police began targeting gang activity in the Short North area in 1993. By May of 1994, the scope of the investigation expanded to include federal authorities.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

In March of 1995, a sweeping federal investigation resulted in more than 200 charges from drug dealing to money laundering being leveled against alleged Posse members. More than 40 members of the gang were arrested and tried, with many receiving maximum sentences.

In spite of these wide-ranging convictions, the Short North Posse was far from finished, as a new generation of members stepped up to replace those who were incarcerated. Two more major waves of arrests followed, with ten more Posse members facing charges in 2006.

19 additional arrests in 2010 effectively marked the end of the Posse’s presence as a criminal force in the city. Of the 19 charged, 13 pleaded guilty and six others were convicted by juries and sentenced to life without parole. In all, the final wave of arrests yielded 31 murder-related convictions.

Short North Posse leader Robert Ledbetter

The final conviction associated with the Short North Posse came in 2017. Robert Ledbetter, a Posse leader, was sentenced to several consecutive life sentences for the revenge killing of 23-year-old Alan Johnson in 2006, who had allegedly murdered Ledbetter’s brother. He was also convicted for his role in the death of drug dealer Marschell Brumfield Junior, and for ordering the murder of his then girlfriend while he was in custody in 2011.

While the violent nature of the crimes committed by Posse members is a matter of record, some say there are two sides to the long-standing gang’s saga.

Was the Short North Posse really as bad as their rap sheet would suggest, or were they unjustly targeted by powerful interests? Whatever the case may be, the Short North of today bears little resemblance to the streets run by Posse members two decades ago.

 

Continue Reading

Crime

Bloody Sunday: two stabbed at Short North bar

Mike Thomas

Published

on

Capping off a weekend of violence in the Short North that included a massive brawl, two people were taken to the hospital with stab wounds suffered from an incident at a High Street bar Sunday night.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

Records show that Columbus police responded to a call at Standard Hall around 9:00PM. They say a man stabbed two bouncers when they attempted to remove him from the bar.

When police arrived on the scene, they located the two victims who were “bleeding and had visible injuries” according to an unofficial report. The two were transported to OSU medical center, both in stable condition.

The suspect is still on the loose, and is wanted for felonious assault. Police have not released a description of the perpetrator at this time.

Continue Reading

Crime

Video: weekend brawl stops traffic in Short North Streets

Mike Thomas

Published

on

For most people, St. Paddy’s day is a joyful celebration of all things Irish. For others, the holiday is used as a pretense to unleash more base tendencies of human nature through binge drinking, violence, and general foolishness.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

A video showcasing a dustup involving a dozen or more St. Paddy’s revelers in the the Short North this weekend has been making the rounds on social media. The fracas broke out in front of the Columbus convention center, interrupting traffic for several minutes.

Video of the brawl was posted to imgur, and is embedded below. The video contains acts of violence that some may find disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.

No cause for the fight has been established and police records indicate no arrests were made in relation to the incident.

Continue Reading
X