At the risk of ruining our carefully crafted image as low-class (many would say no-class) philistines, News Hits is going to admit that we actually subscribe to Vanity Fair, a magazine that delivers reams of celebrity fluff and ads for all sorts of things, from designer duds to fabulous fragrances, we could never ever afford. But the mag also publishes damn good investigative pieces month in and month out. So, really, we don't just get it to ogle all those incredibly hot Dior models.
We bring all this up now because in the November issue now on the stands is a story with a fascinating Detroit connection. It has to do with a group known as the Black Mafia Family, an alleged drug gang that got its start right here in Motown. Among dozens indicted last year were brothers Terry and Demetrius Flenory, who prosecutors contend got their start selling bags of crack in southwest Detroit during their high school years in the mid-1980s and went on to become the ringleaders of a multimillion-dollar criminal enterprise operating in 11 states. Their case, filed in the U.S. District Court in Detroit, has yet to come to trial, and both men have pleaded not guilty to the multiple charges lodged against them.
The Flenory brothers were also big into hip hop, and reportedly operated the Atlanta-based B.M.F Entertainment record label. The Vanity Fair piece focused on New York jeweler Jacob Arabov, who also uses the last name Arabo but is known among the in crowd as "Jacob the Jeweler" and the "King of Bling." If a hip-hopper wanted a diamond-encrusted watch, pendant or Rolls-Royce hood ornament, Arabov was the man to see. Clients included Busta Rhymes, 50 Cent and Kanye West. Madonna, b-ball star Allen Iverson and Elton John also went to Arabov when they wanted to get their rocks on. The Flenory brothers were customers too, which is how Arabov wound up busted and slapped with a pair of decidedly déclassé steel cuffs instead of his usual pricey wrist wear. Accused of laundering money for the BMF gang, he faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted. He, too, has denied the allegations.
It's a terrific story. And we wondered if it had been reported locally. Usually, when a national publication picks up on something like this, it's the locals who break the news and then the big-timers come swooping in. We ran a computer check and found that both papers ran stories like those published in papers across the country, largely based on a Justice Department press release issued when the Flenory bros. were busted last year. No apparent follow-up there. And the Freep ran a two-graph item in its "Names and Faces" column when Arabov was arrested in June. The Detroit News apparently snoozed through the whole thing. So we started a little office pool to see how long it would take for the locals to give the issue some more ink in VF's wake.
The Snews finally woke up to the story last week, producing a short, completely pedestrian piece noting that Arabov was seeking to have his case transferred to New York. Ho and hum.
But, hey, have you heard about those Tigers?News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]