Trafficking suspect found dead in his backyard


Krusak’s body found by officers

By JOE GORMAN

jgorman@vindy.com

AUSTINTOWN

A man who was indicted last week as part of a human-trafficking investigation has apparently killed himself.

Township police Chief Robert Gavalier said officers found Charles Krusac, 78, dead of a gunshot wound about 8:30 a.m. Sunday at his Lou Ida Boulevard home.

It appears Krusac shot himself, Gavalier said.

Gavalier said Krusac called 911 and said there were gunshots in the area. When officers went there to investigate, they found Krusac dead, Gavalier said.

Krusac and four others were charged Thursday by a Mahoning County grand jury in a 104-count indictment with charges ranging from trafficking in persons to compelling prostitution. Krusac was arrested in August after authorities served a search warrant at his home in connection to the investigation and seized computer and video evidence.

He was arraigned on those charges but free on $100,000 bond at the time of the indictment. The other four suspects are in custody.

Reports said that when officers arrived at his home Sunday after he called in a report of shots fired, they found him lying in his backyard with a Smith & Wesson handgun next to him as well as a note. The contents of the note were not included in the police report.

A phone was next to Krusac, and it was dialed to the township’s 911 center. When police replayed the tape of his 911 call, they could hear Krusak tell dispatchers there is a shooting and to send someone over, then 19 seconds later, they heard a gunshot, reports said.

Krusac was one of the two main defendants in the case, along with Ronald Hellman, 51, of Irma Avenue in Youngstown.

On July 25, members of the state attorney general’s office including the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office and others served a search warrant at Krusac’s home after the state received a tip that Krusac was filming child pornography there.

Krusac was taken into custody then, and Hellman was taken into custody a short time later. They were both arraigned in county court in Austintown and both given $100,000 bonds. Krusac was able to post his bond, but Hellman was not.

Together, the pair faced charges of trafficking in persons, compelling prostitution and promoting prostitution. Krusac faced separate counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor and illegal use of a minor in a nudity oriented performance. He faced 66 of the 104 counts of the indictment for activity that took place as far back as 2012. Investigators said they were looking at 80 victims in the case and probably more.

Investigators said Hellman would prey on drug addicted or troubled teens and coerce them into performing acts through drugs or “force.”

Also indicted was James Jaster, 73, of South Avenue in Youngstown, on counts of rape, compelling prostitution and promoting prostitution; Lori Jackson, 43, of Randolph Street Northwest in Warren, on charges of trafficking in persons and compelling prostitution; and Elaine Hellman, 71, of Manhattan Avenue in Youngstown, for obstruction of justice.

Authorities said Elaine Hellman is the mother of Ronald Hellman and was a call taker in the Youngstown 911 Center. She is accused of warning her son that he was under investigation.

The other four defendants are expected to be arraigned today in common pleas court.

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