FBI agents search rental properties of former Columbus vice officer Andrew Mitchell

(Photo: Bennett Haeberle / WBNS-10TV)

COLUMBUS— Federal agents with the FBI’s public corruption task force along with members of the Columbus Division of Police crowded the parking lot of one of former Columbus vice officer Andrew Mitchell’s rental properties Tuesday, 10 Investigates witnessed.

Asked if they were serving a search warrant, an FBI agent said he could not say.

Andrew Mitchell mug
Andrew K. Mitchell - Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio

Todd Lindgren, an FBI spokesman, later told 10 Investigates that agents were carrying out “court-authorized law enforcement activity” at two locations – including the apartment complex on Denune Avenue owned by Mitchell.

A large command unit truck along with other unmarked and marked police cars filled the parking lot of this property in northeast Columbus.

Agents could be heard banging on a trailer parked in the parking lot attempting to open its doors.

The command unit truck was wedged between two buildings near one apartment that Mitchell had listed as his own address in recent police reports.

It was the same area where 10 Investigates first confronted Mitchell about allegations he faced in October. When asked about the serious allegations he faced, Mitchell told 10 Investigates: “I can’t talk to you I’m sorry. My attorney told me not to talk.”

A source tells 10 Investigates that investigators focused their attention on apartment E Tuesday, which is listed in a police report obtained by 10 Investigates as Mitchell’s own apartment, a place he would sometimes stay instead of his house in Delaware County.

The source said after Mitchell learned that the FBI was investigating him in September, people associated with him cleaned out apartment E.

It’s a place that was the focus of the FBI on Tuesday. 10 Investigates watched as agents removed items from that area and focused their attention on a nearby trailer.

A tenant told 10 Investigates that the feds woke them up around 5:30 a.m. when they were banging on an outside door, attempting to gain access to a basement area.

Mitchell, a 31-year veteran of the force, faces seven federal charges. He’s accused of abusing his power as a vice officer. Federal prosecutors allege that he coaxed women into sex acts in exchange for their freedom. He retired from the force the day after being charged in March.

He’s also facing state charges of murder and manslaughter related to the fatal shooting death of Donna Castleberry during an alleged prostitution sting last August. He’s pleaded not guilty in both cases.

10 Investigates first reported that Mitchell owns several rental properties and that police have made 630 police runs to those properties dating back to 2013. Federal prosecutors have also alleged that Mitchell rented his properties to known prostitutes and would allow them to forgo paying rent in exchange for sex.

A cross reference of court records show women who have been picked up for solicitation charges by Mitchell’s fellow vice officers also listed Mitchell’s rental properties as their addresses.

Tenant Robert Garmany told 10 Investigates that he was questioned by the FBI about Mitchell.

“They asked me about the sex for rent thing and like I told them I don't know about that. Outside of me paying rent I have nothing to talk about him having sex with anybody for rent,” Garmany told 10 Investigates.

Garmany only had positive things to say about Mitchell, calling him “an awesome guy” and adding that he was very forgiving about paying rent on time.

“He gave me a break. I'm a federal felon. I was in a halfway house trying to find a place to live no one would give me a shot because of my record and this man gave me that shot,” Garmany said.

Mitchell has pleaded not guilty in both his state and federal cases.

His attorney, Mark Collins, said he was aware of Tuesday’s raids but did not have further comment.

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