Mahoning Valley Task Force Arrests 2 Men Suspected of Seeking Sex with Minors

 

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

“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 Greene and the task force for their continued work to arrest those seeking to prey on victims.”

On Jan. 24, the task force arrested Richard E. Kozak, 31, of Youngstown, after an investigation revealed evidence of online crimes against children. Kozak allegedly was participating in sexually explicit conversations with a juvenile and detailed his desire to sexually assault a 15-year-old. Detectives discovered that he was employed as a corrections officer at the Northeast Ohio Correctional Center and had engaged in conversations during work hours. CoreCivic, the company that operates the facility, cooperated with the investigation. Kozak was 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 was 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.

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:

  • Jan. 1 – Russell Miller, 41, Struthers, was charged with engaging in prostitution, possession of criminal tools and voyeurism.
  • Jan. 3 – Austin Bennett, 25, Elyria, was charged with soliciting and possession of criminal tools. He also was found to have two arrest warrants.
  • Jan. 4 – Matthew Cessna, 43, Youngstown, was charged with engaging in prostitution and possession criminal tools.
  • Jan. 4 – Jerome Hassan, 59, New Castle, Pennsylvania, was charged with engaging in prostitution and possession of criminal tools.
  • Jan. 5 – Andrew Lightner, 43, Alliance, was charged with solicitation and possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Jan. 6 – Michael Lawson, 38, Butler, Pennsylvania, was charged with engaging in prostitution and possession of criminal tools
  • Jan. 6 – Gary Casey, 47, Girard, was charged with engaging in prostitution and possession of criminal tools
  • Jan. 7 – Mai Alei, 42, Youngstown, was charged with solicitation and possession of criminal tools
  • Jan. 8 – Seth Ensign, 23, Youngstown, was charged with engaging in prostitution and possession of criminal tools
  • Jan. 11 – Cody Heasley, 26, Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania; was charged with engaging in prostitution and possession of criminal tools.
  • Jan. 13 – Wissam Zarour, 50, Youngstown, was charged with engaging in prostitution and possession of criminal tools.
  • Jan. 13 – Justin Palmer, 43, Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania; was charged with engaging in prostitution and possession of criminal tools
  • Jan. 13 – Ollie Patrick Jr., 52, Mineral City, was charged with engaging in prostitution and possession of criminal tools
  • Jan. 19 – Jamal Jamison, 31, Wintersville, was issued summons for soliciting prostitution and possession of criminal tools

“Our message is clear: Don’t buy sex in Ohio – you will be charged and held accountable,” Yost said.

The Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force is led by the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office and includes resources from the 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.

Indictments are criminal allegations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

 

Information courtesy of the Attorney General of Ohio

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