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Chiquita/'Enquirer'/'Brill's' Contact: Is There a Source?

By Doug Trapp · January 27th, 2000 · Burning Questions
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In the February issue of Brill's Content, a national media issues magazine, former Chiquita lawyer George Ventura wrote a seven-page first-person account of his life before, during and after The Cincinnati Enquirer's investigation of Chiquita Brands International.

Chiquita likely has great interest in what Ventura -- arrested and sentenced for being one of the anonymous sources for the Enquirer series -- has to say. So, of course, the company has closely tracked what's being written about it.

In late November, Brill's Content Executive Editor Elizabeth Lesly Stevens submitted summaries of the article to Enquirer Publisher Harry Whipple, former Enquirer Editor Lawrence Beaupre and the lawyers for former Enquirer reporters Michael Gallagher and Cameron McWhirter in order to gather responses from them for the February issue.

Less than one day later, according to Stevens, a Chiquita lawyer contacted Ventura's attorney, Marc Mezibov, and indicated the company was upset with Ventura's plans for the article.

Concerns about the contact almost led Ventura to pull his article from Brill's, Stevens said.

So how did Chiquita find out so quickly about a story they weren't directly informed of?

Beaupre could offer no help.

"I don't have any information that could shed any light on that at all," said Beaupre, now working for the news division of Gannett, The Enquirer's parent company, in Arlington, Va.

Mezibov had no comment on the issue and referred questions to Stevens, who told CityBeat it would not be unusual for an employee in such a situation to submit the article summary to a supervisor or company attorney before writing a response.

Patrick Hanley, Gallagher's attorney during his criminal prosecution and sentencing for accessing Chiquita's internal voice mail system, didn't know how Chiquita found out about Ventura's article so quickly.

"I don't have the slightest idea," Hanley said.

Roger Makley, a Dayton attorney who served as McWhirter's counsel during questioning by a Hamilton County special prosecutor, was out of town and could not be reached.

McWhirter, asked whether he provided the summary to Chiquita, responded, "No. It's a ridiculous question."

Whipple did not return a phone call seeking comment.



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