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Austintown man gets nine years in prison in child-porn case

YOUNGSTOWN — Robert A. Basic, 44, of Oak Trace Street in Austintown, will spend nine years in prison after pleading guilty Nov. 30, 2020, to 20 child pornography charges — then failing to appear for his sentencing Jan. 21.

Basic and Ryan N. Markenkovic, 44, of the Mahoning County jail, were charged with pandering obscenity after an investigation by the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force.

The task force used search warrants at the homes of the two men Aug. 11, finding evidence of child pornography, Maj. Jeff Allen of the Mahoning County Sheriff’s office said.

Basic was indicted on 50 counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor for having child pornograpy on a computer. He later pleaded guilty to 20 counts, and prosecutors were offering to recommend six years in prison.

After Basic failed to appear for sentencing, however, assistant Prosecutor Jennifer McLaughlin on Tuesday had recommended that Basic get 10 years.

She told Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court that Basic checked himself into a mental health facility at a Warren hospital while he was out on bond.

McLaughlin said Basic has an “appetite” for images of children in sexual situations. And because of Basic’s substance abuse, alcohol abuse and mental health issues, “it makes him more dangerous to children that are potentially out there in the community who might come across him.”

Instead of coming to court for his sentencing, Basic “wrote a suicide note, didn’t commit suicide, and instead of turning himself in on the bench warrant (Krichbaum) issued, he disrespects the court again by simply choosing to go to the hospital.”

Basic also will have to register as a sex offender when he leaves prison.

Lynn Maro, Basic’s attorney, told the judge the reason Basic did not appear for sentencing was Basic “has been battling mental health issues … for over 20 years” and is a “recluse” who doesn’t leave his parents’ house.

She said Basic was in hospitals in Youngstown, East Liverpool and Warren around the time of his scheduled sentencing in January. When he was out of isolation at Trumbull Regional Medical Center in Warren, he contacted his parents, who contacted Maro, who contacted Krichbaum’s staff and the U.S. Marshals Service to pick him up, she said.

Maro said Basic was not thinking rationally enough during that time to purposely “thumb his nose at the system,” in the way McLaughlin suggested.

Marenkovic pleaded guilty to two pandering obscenity counts, and Krichbaum sentenced him to nine months in prison. Marenkovic also must register as a sex offender.

erunyan@tribtoday.com

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