A program to alert Akron area residents about the growing problem of human trafficking in Ohio was held today at the Akron General Health and Wellness Center, sponsored by Summit County Children's Services. One of the participants was Melinda Sykes of the Ohio Attorney General's office. She tells AkronNews Now that a recent study by the Attorney General's Office revealed there are an average of more than a thousand children a year who are used for sex trafficking in Ohio.
" This is a very underground activity. It's very difficult to get actual statistics, but I think as the awareness grows, as law enforcement becomes more aware of how to identify these cases, we are seeing some new prosecutions," says Sykes.
" It's crucial that we train everyone, and that everyone has awareness on what to look for. This is something that the general public didn't know anything about a couple of years ago. I think we're doing a much better job of getting the word out now."
Sykes says Attorney general Mike Dewine has made attacking human trafficking a priority and has set up a task force and other means to work with law enforcement to crack down on human traffickers.
State Representative Teresa Fedor, a Toledo Democrat, said Monday she expects to introduce legislation in the coming days to toughen the penalties for those who purchase sex with a minor. Solicitors would also be required to register as a sex offender.
Among other changes, her proposal would increase the statute of limitations for human trafficking from six years to 20. It would ban people from knowingly purchasing advertising space for sexual activity for hire that includes a depiction of a minor.
More charges have been filed in the aftermath of the Steubenville rape case, and this time authorities are going after two teenaged girls for making threats against the victim of the attack by two Steubenville High School football players. Ironically, prosecutors said the threats were made using social media.
Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that death penalty specifications have been attached to a 28-count indictment issued by a Summit County Grand Jury this week against an Akron man in connection with the Craigslist killings.
Richard Beasley, 52, of Akron is charged with 9 counts of aggravated murder in addition to charges of attempted murder, kidnapping, aggravated robbery and having weapons under disability.
Beasley is accused of being the ringleader in the case that involved using a Craigslist ad to lure people to a fictional job in Noble County. The dead include Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron and Timothy Kern, 47, of Massillon and David Pauley, 51 of Florida. Another man, Scott Davis of South Carolina was also lured to the rural property, but he escaped and is expected to testify against Beasley.
Brogan Rafferty, 16, of Stow, was also implicated in the crime spree and faces aggravated murder and robbery charges.
Akron Man Indicted For Craigslist Murders by Akron NewsNow
News Release From The Summit County Prosecutor's Office
Summit County Prosecuting Attorney Sherri Bevan Walsh today announced a 28-count indictment against 52-year-old Richard James Beasley of Akron. The indictment, which was announced at a press conference this morning with Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, alleges that Beasley was the principal offender in these crimes. The charges are as follows:
Nine counts of Aggravated Murder with Gun specification
Multiple victims death specification
Aggravated robbery death specification
Kidnapping death specification
Under detention death specification
One count of Attempted Murder with a gun specification
Four counts of Kidnapping with gun specifications,
Four counts of Aggravated Robbery with gun specifications,
Four counts of Having Weapons Under Disability,
Three counts of Theft,
One count of Identity Theft,
Two counts of Grand Theft.
If convicted of Aggravated Murder with any of the death specifications, the prosecution will seek capital punishment.
“These victims had almost nothing to their names and were desperate for employment, a situation that is not alien to many in Ohio and throughout the country,” said Prosecutor Walsh. “To lure these men to their deaths with the false promise of steady work is a horrific and sickening crime. Attorney General DeWine and I are pooling our resources to seek justice for these men and their families.”
Prosecutor Walsh also announced that her office and the Attorney General’s Office will be jointly prosecuting Beasley.
The Bureau of Criminal Investigation, a division of the Attorney General’s Office, has been involved in the case from the beginning and continues to lead the investigation. When the Akron connection was discovered, the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office began closely working with BCI and the Attorney General’s special prosecutors. This continued cooperation will ensure that the prosecution is both efficient and cost-effective.
A number of companies in Summit County did not hold up their end of the bargain in deals with the state.
That's according to Attorney General Mike DeWine, who analyzed the economic development packages received by the 420 companies who had deals expiring at the end of 2010. The overall compliance rate was about 54%.
Our economic development region, which includes Summit, Stark, Medina, Portage and Wayne counties, showed a compliance rate of 70% - that's the best in the state.
The other 30% of companies that were found to have not complied with at least one component of their deal wound up on the list for various reasons.
DeWine created four categories and there are eight Summit County companies listed in one of them for receiving loans through the state, but not doing something they promised to do. In most cases, they did not create the promised number of jobs. The other companies didn't file the final report with the state, so it's unclear whether they would otherwise have complied. The Ohio Department of Development either extended the agreements, reduced the commitment or took no action.
Another chart shows a Richfield company received Workforce Guarantee Award, but didn't train the number of workers that was promised. The city of Stow received a grant for road improvements, but didn't file the necessary paperwork on time. A company in Stow received tax credits, but didn't create the jobs it expected.
In some cases, the state acknowledges that the poor economy was a proven factor in the non-compliance.
CLICK HERE to see the entire report (44 pages).
Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine met today (Wednesday) with law enforcement officials from across northeast Ohio in Ravenna to discuss how his office can better assist them in this time of budgetary cutbacks.
Dewine tells AkronNewsNow two growing problems for police departments across the state involve two types of drugs." I think one of the biggest challenges we face is this twin evil of prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse."
Dewine says Heroin has made a big comeback after last being popular in the 70's " It's everywhere . It's in all 88 counties. No matter how small the county there's heron. I think the principal reason is it's just cheap. It's on the street. It's marketed in a retail fashion, and its available."
Dewine says an average of four people die each day in Ohio from drug abuse, and lately its been mainly from heroin or prescription drugs.
He says in the case of prescription drugs, the drug that kills is not prescribed to the person who takes it. The prescription comes from someone else who then sells the drug on the street for a profit.
The Ohio Attorney General is targeting a group of companies owned by a North Canton man for not making good on helping rescue homeowners from foreclosure.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine's office says the lawsuit targets Diversified Real Estate Consultants, DREAM Management, and Precision Processing Solutions, Inc, all owned by Daniel DePasquale of North Canton, for charging upfront fees then not delivering on foreclosure help.
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced a lawsuit against foreclosure rescue company Diversified Real Estate Consultants LLC (DREC), its affiliates, and its owner for multiple violations of Ohio consumer laws.
"This company continually misled consumers," Attorney General DeWine said. "It charged substantial upfront fees for services and results that it promised but never delivered. It also encouraged homeowners to default on their mortgage loans, falsely stating that defaulting on their loans would help them get a loan modification. Such statements are completely false and caused homeowners to risk losing their homes."
According to Attorney General DeWine's lawsuit, filed in the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, DREC is a Florida registered company operating from Ohio that offered mortgage assistance relief services to Ohio consumers, even though it never registered to do business in Ohio. DREC charged and accepted fees of $500 to $3,495 from homeowners, promising them reduced monthly mortgage payments or better interest rates, and represented a "100% money-back guarantee." Despite the company's claims, consumers received no help and no refunds.
The Ohio Attorney General's Office currently has 37 total complaints against DREC dating back to 2009. Of those complaints, 18 are unresolved, including seven complaints from Ohio consumers. In the 18 unresolved complaints, consumers reported total losses of more than $36,000.
In addition to DREC, the Attorney General's lawsuit names defendants DREAM Management USA (DREAM) and Precision Processing Solutions International LLC (PPSI) – Ohio companies that provided DREC research, analysis, and documentation processing services, in direct connection with DREC's mortgage relief assistance services.
The suit also names North Canton resident Daniel J. DePasquale, owner and operator of DREC, DREAM, and PPSI.
The lawsuit charges the defendants with violations of Ohio's Consumer Sales Practices Act, Debt Adjusters Act, and Telephone Solicitation Sales Act. It seeks a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, civil penalties, and full restitution for consumers.
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