by Doug Brown
The FBI is accusing two Akron men of extorting a Columbus-area businessman whose brother had connected them to a large-scale Mexican drug trafficker that ripped the pair off. The Akron men, Franklin Conley and Patrick Griffin, threatened to kill the victim and the victim's family if he didn't pay them what they lost in the failed deal — between $65,000 and $125,000, an FBI agent's affidavit says. They later demanded $175,000.
Conley and the businessman's brother were housed together last year at Oriana House, an Akron halfway house. There, the brother "provided Conley with the name of a Mexican drug dealer," and after Conley was released this winter, he and Griffin "met with the Mexican drug dealer who ripped them off (took their cash and provided no product) for a large amount of money, between $65,000 and $125,000," the FBI affidavit says.
"Conley and Griffin told the victim's brother that since he gave them the Mexican drug dealer's telephone number, he was responsible for their losses and he had to make it good," it says. "After the victims' brother told them he could not pay, Conley and Griffin began contacting the Victim and threatened him." The pair believed the brother could pay because he's a successful businessman.
Starting this February, they began harassing him for the money, telling him that he and his family would be killed.
In May, Conley called him up and said he'd "go to war" and that he had "people from out of town" that would come kill them. Conley said he already gave his lawyer $20,000 in case he was charged with murder, and that he'd beat a murder charge for a second time. In 2012, Conley was acquitted of a murder charge in Summit County. "I'll pay $50,000 to beat another one," he told the man.
The man had already gone to the FBI and agents were listening to the calls and reading the text messages. According to federal court records, Conley was arrested on Friday and charged with extortion and "interstate communication" (using a phone to do it). Griffin's status is unclear.