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Indicted Playa faces charge



Published: Fri, May 31, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The suspect allegedly had been in a bullet-riddled drug house.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Thomas D. Moses, a member of the Ayers Street Playas awaiting trial this summer, has been charged with kicking an FBI agent in the face.

At Moses' video arraignment Thursday in municipal court, Judge Elizabeth A. Kobly set bond at $50,000, cash or surety. Moses, 29, of Ayers Street, is charged with assault on a police officer, a felony.

In asking for the $50,000 bond, John A. Regginello, an assistant city prosecutor, pointed out that Moses has a long criminal history, including fleeing and eluding, assault and drugs.

Moses, the prosecutor said, also has had four warrants issued for his failure to appear in court on previous cases.

Moses will be back in Judge Kobly's court June 6 for a preliminary hearing. Before then, he will be assigned a court-appointed lawyer. He bonded out of jail Thursday evening.

Moses has been out on $80,000 cash or surety bond since his indictment along with 13 other members of the Playas in March 2001. He is charged with six counts of engaging in criminal gang activity and seven counts of trafficking in crack cocaine. His trial in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court is Aug. 14.

This latest charge could put his common pleas bond in jeopardy. Judge Maureen A. Cronin, who will preside over his trial, could not be reached to comment.

Fight with agent

The scuffle with FBI Special Agent Mike Cizmar happened Wednesday after city housing inspectors, aided by police, showed up at 139 S. Bruce St. on the city's East Side to tag the bullet-riddled vacant house for violations, reports show.

A red sign on the front door of the three-story house now warns that anyone entering will be arrested and jailed.

A witness gave police a description of a man seen leaving the reputed drug house just as the housing inspectors arrived, saying he had on gray sweat pants.

Cizmar, a member of the Mahoning Valley Violent Crimes Task Force gang unit, spotted Moses and another man near Shehy Street and Truesdale Avenue. Moses, who had on gray sweat pants, refused to stop for questioning, shouted an expletive at Cizmar then ran, with the agent in pursuit, reports show.

Cizmar said he drew his gun when he saw Moses reach toward his left pants pocket. Moses, the agent said, tripped on junk as he ran through a back yard and tried to scale a fence. Cizmar then caught Moses and a struggle ensued.

Moses kicked Cizmar twice, once in the cheek, reports show. Cizmar punched Moses, ripped off his T-shirt and pulled the sweat pants half off.

After that, Moses scaled the fence and ran again.

Youngstown Detective Sgt. Mike Lambert and Patrolman Robert Kuti found Moses in the 100 block of Truesdale and arrested him.

The house

Lambert, a member of the gang unit, said the attic in the house on South Bruce was filled with marijuana-growing equipment, including grow lights and reflectors. He said the house had been "shot to pieces" with an assault rifle.

The grass is high, the yard is littered with trash, and most of its windows are shattered. A few of the concrete steps leading up from the sidewalk have nearly broken away.

A neighbor who wanted to remain anonymous for safety reasons told The Vindicator on Thursday that gang members have used the house for drug activity for a long time. A few slipped back into the house Thursday through a rear window, the neighbor said.

The neighbor said the house will remain active until it is boarded up.

Mahoning County records show the 87-year-old house is owned by Kathleen Cruz. Value of the land and house is $7,100 and $144 is owed in delinquent taxes, records show.

Change

Although the South Bruce house shows that gang activity is still present on the East Side, the indictment of 14 Playas last year marked the beginning of change. A cooperative effort now exists between city police and the Mahoning County Sheriff's Department.

Neighbors say the drug activity is nothing like before when the Playas ruled through intimidation, and drug users called the area La La Land.

meade@vindy.com




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