More charges expected in human-trafficking case
By Joe Gorman
Authorities say a man in the Mahoning County jail charged with four counts of compelling prostitution is part of a human-trafficking investigation that so far has at least 80 victims.
Maj. Jeff Allen of the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office said Ronald Hellman, 50, of Irma Avenue, was part of a group of people who preyed on young women and juveniles, especially people who had drug problems.
The victims would be taken to his South Side house, where they were filmed performing pornographic acts, Allen said.
Hellman was arraigned Monday in Mahoning County Area Court in Austintown on four counts of compelling prostitution. Court records set the date of the offenses all at April 4. Judge David D’Apolito set Hellman’s bond at $100,000.
Allen said an investigation is ongoing, and he expects more people to be charged. He did not want to comment on how investigators became aware of Hellman’s activities.
“We expect more charges,” Allen said.
Hellman is familiar to law enforcement. A search of county court records for Hellman turn up more than 45 traffic or criminal cases.
In the current case, Allen said he had information that Hellman was planning on leaving town, so he decided to charge him now so he can be held while the investigation takes its course.
Allen said Hellman often supplied drugs to control victims or also used “force” to control them.
“Typically, they were women that a lot of times are drug dependent,” Allen said of Hellman’s victims.