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Poland man faces 15 sex charges

Alex Bugno, right, sits at the defense table Thursday with his attorneys in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court before the start of testimony in his trial. Staff photo / Ed Runyan

YOUNGSTOWN — Testimony began Thursday in the trial of Alex C. Bugno, 31, of Clingan Road in Poland, charged with 14 counts of compelling prostitution and one of pandering obscenities, accused of paying three boys to engage in sexual activity with him.

If convicted, Bugno could get up to three years in prison on each count of compelling prostitution. The pandering charge carries a possible penalty of 18 months in prison.

During opening statements, Steve Yacavone, assistant Mahoning County prosecutor, said the boys were friends who sometimes hung out at Bugno Towing on Indianola Avenue, where Bugno worked as a tow truck driver.

From February to June 2004, the boys, then 16 and 17, “did what the defendant wanted” and received money in return, Yacovone said. But some time in June, Bugno didn’t pay, and they got angry. They fired a BB gun at vehicle windows at the towing company, Yacavone said.

It led to one of the boys telling his father about the incidents with Bugno, which were reported to police.

The Youngstown Police Department and Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation recovered electronic devices during a search of the towing company and other locations, Yacovone said.

Defense attorney Tom Pavlinic of Annapolis, Md., however, said in opening statements the trial would be about teenage boys who are “trying to get money from Alex Bugno.”

He said one piece of evidence will be text messages about ways to get Bugno to pay them money. The stories two of the boys told to police shortly after the investigation began were very different from each other, he said. He mentioned that it took six years for Bugno to be charged, but he didn’t explain why.

Youngstown police detective James Rowley was the first witness, saying two of the boys told him the crimes occurred numerous times at the Indianola and Garland avenues locations. Those two locations and Bugno’s home were searched in July 2014. A video that was recovered shows Bugno engaging in sexual activity with someone, the detective testified.

The trial resumes today.

erunyan@tribtoday.com

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