MAHONING COUNTY Fugitives face force to be reckoned with
Know the whereabouts of a fugitive? Call 1 (866) 4WANTED.
By PATRICIA MEADE
VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Sixty-five mug shots tell the tale.
The pictures of the 65 captured fugitives line one wall at a spacious suite in the Wick Building downtown, new headquarters of the local U.S. Marshals Service Northern Ohio Violent Fugitive Task Force.
"That's the primary purpose -- apprehending fugitives," Police Chief Robert E. Bush Jr. said of the unit. "Anyone with information about a fugitive should call 1(866) 4WANTED."
Bush said the task force is a continuation of the summer's Gun Reduction Interdiction Project, a multiagency effort that targeted repeat offenders. Getting bad people off the streets has resulted in a drop in crime, he said.
During GRIP, which lasted from late June to early September, the city recorded one homicide. During the same 10-week period in 2002, the city had 10 homicides.
Tuesday, the chief joined U.S. Marshal Peter J. Elliott, Mahoning County Sheriff Randall A. Wellington and Maj. Michael Budd in congratulating the task force, formed in mid-November, on its success.
The full-time unit includes an Adult Parole Authority officer; deputies Willie Seay, Jeff Duzzny, David Aey and Edward Mitchell; and the Youngstown Police Department Street Crimes Unit: Detective Sgt. Pat Kelly and patrolmen Mike Anderson, Ronald Barber, Marc Gillette, Tony Vitullo, Brian Voitus and Dave Wilson.
A new part-time member, Struthers Patrolman Dan Mamula, joined recently. Kelly said he'd like to see other police departments provide the fugitive task force with part-time officers.
Bush said the 65 arrests total 80 felony charges. The task force also confiscated $15,000 and five weapons.
Cathy Jones, assistant chief deputy marshal, said rounding up fugitives is a collaborative effort with the FBI-led Mahoning Valley Violent Crimes Task Force.
Duzzny said the marshals' task force seeks all types of fugitives, from murder suspects down to those who owe child support.
Warrants come from the county sheriff's department, the repository for all county and federal warrants.
A few weeks ago, The Vindicator began running a "most wanted" box that features a fugitive's mug shot with the marshals' 866 number. Deputy U.S. Marshal Jeff Irwin, head of the local marshal task force, said tips come in on a steady basis.
Elliott said reward money is available from Washington, D.C., to pay informants. He called offering a reward a critical tool and said, chuckling, that he's had people turn in their mother or brother for a reward.