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Valley sex stings produce two felony arrests

YOUNGSTOWN — Separate investigations by the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force have resulted in felony charges against two men accused of seeking sex with juveniles.

Additionally, the task force conducted other undercover sting operations that targeted 14 individuals who were attempting to buy sex.

The task force, organized under the Ohio Attorney General’s Organized Crime Investigations Commission, made the arrests as part of its ongoing mission to target the demand side of human trafficking.

The Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force is led by the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office and includes resources from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, New Waterford Police Department, Cortland Police Department, Austintown Police Department, Youngstown Police Department, the Ohio Investigative Unit and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

On Tuesday, the task force arrested Richard E. Kozak, 31, of Youngstown, after an investigation revealed evidence of online crimes against children. Kozak is accused of participating in sexually explicit conversations with a juvenile and detailed his desire to sexually assault a 15-year-old, according to a news release Wednesday from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

Detectives discovered that he was employed as a corrections officer at the NOCC and had engaged in conversations during work hours. CoreCivic, the company that operates the facility, cooperated with the investigation. Kozak is charged with compelling prostitution, a third-degree felony; importuning, a fifth-degree felony; and possession of criminal tools, a fifth-degree felony.

On Jan. 6, the task force arrested John Slates, 75, of Richmond, after he allegedly attempted to engage in sex with individuals he believed to be a 15-year-old female and her adult mother. Slates is charged with compelling prostitution, a first-degree felony; attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, a fourth-degree felony; importuning, a fifth-degree felony; possessing criminal tools, a fifth-degree felony; and engaging in prostitution, a first-degree misdemeanor, the news release states.

“Every parent should take comfort in knowing these predators are off the street, no longer attempting to buy sex with children,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said. “Kudos to Sheriff (Jerry) Greene and the task force for their continued work to arrest those seeking to prey on victims.”

OTHER STINGS

Additionally, with the help of the Salem and East Palestine police departments, the task force conducted other undercover sting operations that targeted individuals who were attempting to buy sex.

The work has resulted in the following arrests so far in January, the news release states:

Jan. 1 – Russell Miller, 41, Struthers, is charged with engaging in prostitution, possession of criminal tools and voyeurism;

Jan. 3 – Austin Bennett, 25, Elyria, soliciting and possession of criminal tools. He also was found to have two arrest warrants;

Jan. 4 – Matthew Cessna, 43, Youngstown, engaging in prostitution and possession criminal tools;

Jan. 4 – Jerome Hassan, 59, New Castle, Pa., engaging in prostitution and possession of criminal tools;

Jan. 5 – Andrew Lightner, 43, Alliance, solicitation and possession of drug paraphernalia;

Jan. 6 – Michael Lawson, 38, Butler, Pa., engaging in prostitution and possession of criminal tools;

Jan. 6 – Gary Casey, 47, Girard, engaging in prostitution and possession of criminal tools;

Jan. 7 – Mai Alei, 42, Youngstown, solicitation and possession of criminal tools;

Jan. 8 – Seth Ensign, 23, Youngstown, engaging in prostitution and possession of criminal tools;

Jan. 11 – Cody Heasley, 26, Beaver Falls, Pa., engaging in prostitution and possession of criminal tools;

Jan. 13 – Wissam Zarour, 50, Youngstown, engaging in prostitution and possession of criminal tools;

Jan. 13 – Justin Palmer, 43, Slippery Rock, Pa., engaging in prostitution and possession of criminal tools;

Jan. 13 – Ollie Patrick Jr., 52, Mineral City, engaging in prostitution and possession of criminal tools;

Jan. 19 – Jamal Jamison, 31, Wintersville, was issued a summons for soliciting prostitution and possession of criminal tools.

news@vindy.com

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