Rose bookie found dead in his Franklin apartment

A Franklin man best known as Pete Rose’s former bookie was found dead in his apartment last month.

According to the Warren County Coroner’s Office, Ronald Peters was found dead in the bedroom of his East Second Street apartment about 5 p.m. Nov. 19 during a welfare check by Franklin police. According to Coroner’s Investigator Doyle Burke, police were called to the apartment building after residents complained of strange odors. Burke said the last time Peters was seen alive was Nov. 8

He said there were no signs of foul play and that an official cause of death is pending until toxicology tests are completed.

Burke said Peters received an indigent cremation, and the remains were turned over to his family. The two-sentence death notice only said that he had passed away, with services at the convenience of the family.

“The last few years were really tough on him,” said David Chicarelli, a Franklin attorney who represented Peters over the years. “He had a lot of major illnesses and tried to work … The last time I saw him was six to eight months ago.”

Chicarelli said Peters traveled setting up car auctions for dealerships and had always kept a place in Franklin.

“He was very personable and was a very good, confident golfer,” Chicarelli said. “Everyone liked him.”

He said Peters had owned Jonathan’s Cafe, a downtown Franklin bar that was the place that everyone went to in the 1980s. The bar has since been razed. It was at that bar where Rose, baseball’s hit king, has admitted to placing bets with Peters through Thomas Gioiosa and Paul Janszen, who were Rose’s associates.

The three were the primary witnesses in the 1989 investigation by baseball lawyer John Dowd that led to the agreement in which Rose accepted a lifetime ban. As the concerns about Rose’s gambling were investigated, Peters claimed to have taken bets from the former Cincinnati Reds All-Star and manager exceeding $1 million during a two-year period. Chicarelli said that Peters was never bitter toward Rose.

Chicarelli said that while Peters regretted what happened to him and Rose, he felt Rose should be in the Hall of Fame.

When Rose finally admitted to betting on baseball in his 2004 book, Chicarelli said, “This whole thing was about everybody calling Ron a liar. Well, when I say everybody, Major League baseball believed him. If you want to use the word vindication, (Peters) told the truth.”

Chicarelli said Peters had said in the past that Rose bet on baseball, but never said he bet on the Reds.

In 1989, Peters agreed to a plea bargain and was convicted and sentenced to 24 months in prison on federal charges of cocaine distribution and making a false statement on his 1985 income tax return.

In 2001, Peters was sentenced to six months in prison for owing $39,000 in dependent support. He previously served a year in prison, from April 1998 to March 1999, for a theft conviction, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

In June 2004, Peters was shot in the head outside a Dayton grocery store parking lot after suffering a gunshot wound behind his left ear. A security guard for a nearby church told police he heard two shots, then saw another man get out of the Thunderbird and run.

Chicarelli believes that the shooting may have contributed to his death. He had a number of illnesses since then.

He said nearly two years ago that Peters asked him to review a contract and had received an advance for a book deal. However, Chicarelli said he never heard what had become of that deal.

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