State Crime News Briefs


Sunbury News Staff



Mahoning County Man and Affiliated Businesses Indicted on More Than 100 counts

YOUNGSTOWN —Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost, and Mahoning County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Gains announced that a Mahoning County man and his affiliated businesses have been indicted on more than 100 counts related to alleged corrupt activity, theft, and money laundering related to three development projects with the City of Youngstown.

Dominic Marchionda, 58, of Poland, was indicted on the following 101 counts:

One count of Engaging in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity, a felony of the first degree

Three counts of Aggravated Theft, felonies of the first degree

One count of Aggravated Theft, a felony of the second degree

65 counts of Money Laundering, felonies of the third degree

15 counts of Tampering with Records, felonies of the third degree

Eight counts of Telecommunications Fraud, felonies of the third degree

Two counts of Receiving Stolen Property, felonies of the third degree

Two counts of Receiving Stolen Property, felonies of the fourth degree

One count of Receiving Stolen Property, a felony of the fifth degree

One count of Falsification, a felony of the third degree

One count of Attempted Grand Theft, a felony of the fourth degree

One count of Attempted Securing Writing by Deception, a felony of the fourth degree

One count of Theft, a felony of the fifth degree

Rubino Construction, Inc., of Youngstown, was indicted on the following 55 counts:

One count of Engaging in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity, a felony of the first degree

One count of Aggravated Theft, a felony of the second degree

Two counts of Receiving Stolen Property, felonies of the third degree

48 counts of Money Laundering, felonies of the third degree

Two counts of Receiving Stolen Property, felonies of the fourth degree

One count of Tampering with Records, a felony of the third degree

U.S. Campus Suites, LLC, of Poland, was indicted on the following seven counts:

One count of Engaging in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity, a felony of the first degree

One count of Aggravated Theft, a felony of the second degree

Three counts of Money Laundering, felonies of the third degree

Two counts of Receiving Stolen Property, felonies of the fourth degree

Erie Terminal Place, LLC, of Poland, was indicted on the following five counts:

One count of Engaging in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity, a felony of the first degree

One count of Aggravated Theft, a felony of the third degree

Three counts of Tampering with Records, felonies of the third degree

Wick Properties, LLC, of Poland, was indicted on the following 16 counts:

One count of Engaging in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity, a felony of the first degree

One count of Aggravated Theft, a felony of the first degree

One count of Aggravated Theft, a felony of the fourth degree

Nine counts of Tampering with Records, felonies of the third degree

Four counts of Money Laundering, felonies of the third degree

Villas di Tuscany, LLC, of Poland, was indicted on the following 15 counts:

13 counts of Money Laundering, felonies of the third degree

Two counts of Receiving Stolen Property, felonies of the fourth degree

“Allegations such as those contained in this indictment must be treated seriously and investigated thoroughly. This investigation and prosecution is a collaborative effort amongst several offices, and I want to thank the Auditor of State and officials in Mahoning County for their efforts,” said Attorney General DeWine.

“What our investigators found is deeply disturbing,” Auditor Dave Yost said. “Our team has worked this investigation for more than two years. They were tenacious and tireless in seeking justice, and there is more to come.”

“This was an extremely complicated investigation, one that required a great deal of patience, sophistication and teamwork,” Auditor Yost said. “The collaboration with the Attorney General’s office and Mahoning County officials was critical in reaching the point we are at today.”

A copy of the indictment is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s and Auditor’s websites.

This ongoing case is being investigated by the Ohio Auditor of State’s Public Integrity Assurance Team with the assistance of the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Department. The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is serving as special assistant prosecutor with Mahoning County in this case.

An indictment is an allegation of criminal wrongdoing. A defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

Equitas Health, Caracole, and Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio latest to join coalition

Columbus, OH – Three trusted voices in Ohio’s LGBT community, including two of the state’s largest organizations treating HIV/AIDS victims, have joined the “No on Issue 2” coalition, now made up of nearly 80 organizations.

Equitas Health, headquartered in Columbus, is a nonprofit community-based healthcare system. With 16 offices in 11 cities that serve over 67,000 people, Equitas Health is the largest HIV/AIDS treatment organization in the state of Ohio.

Caracole, headquartered in Cincinnati, seeks to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS through housing, care and prevention by serving more than 1,500 clients in an eight-county region of Southwest Ohio. For the past 30 years, Caracole has been a state and national leader in setting best practices for AIDS Service Organizations.

Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio works to ensure sensitivity, understanding and support for issues of importance to the LGBT and allied communities, particularly in the areas of education, healthcare and civil rights.

Said Bill Hardy, President and CEO of Equitas Health:

“While Issue 2 purports to lower prescription drug costs, the reality is that it could increase drug costs for state programs and the majority of Ohioans, while also reducing patient access to medication. Many drugs used by Equitas Health patients already receive as good a discount, if not better, than the VA. While not lowering the cost of drugs for our patients, Issue 2 would throw state prescription drug programs into a state of confusion, litigation and, ultimately, higher prices.”

Linda Seiter, Executive Director of Caracole, said:

“While we support a comprehensive, national effort aimed at accountability, reform and universal access for all Americans, we do not believe a state-by-state effort is an efficient, fair or equitable way to tackle the problem of inflated drug costs. We’re concerned that Issue 2 will lead to cost-shifting and higher prices for privately insured individuals. We’re concerned about the prospect of reduced formularies and, therefore, decreased access to certain drugs. Caracole represents some of Ohio’s most vulnerable citizens, and for them, we stand in opposition to Issue 2.”

Said Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio President Michael Liggett:

“Issue 2’s promise of lower drug prices sounds good on the surface, but experts who have studied the issue say it won’t do what it promises and may well make matters worse. The fact that organizations like Equitas Health and Caracole—which continue to do such important work for those affected by HIV/AIDS—are opposing this ballot measure has enormous credibility with the Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio. We stand with them and urge the LGBT community to vote no on Issue 2.”

Nine Arrested in Undercover Operation

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene announced that an undercover operation aimed at reducing demand for sex trafficking has led to the arrests of nine men, including one suspect who is accused of arranging a sexual encounter with a person he allegedly believed was a juvenile.

“The demand for the sex trade is a major driving force behind human trafficking, and that is why undercover operations like this are so important,” said Attorney General DeWine. “We want would-be purchasers of sex to remember that they could be arranging to meet with law enforcement.”

Mahoning County Arrests

The arrests took place as part of an undercover investigation which was conducted by the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Attorney General DeWine’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation Crimes Against Children Unit, Austintown Police Department, Beaver Township Police Department, Ohio Adult Parole Authority, Mahoning County Emergency Management Administration, Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office, New Middletown Police Department, Ohio Investigative Unit, and Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Jamie Webb, 31, of Salem, was arrested on charges of attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, importuning, possession of criminal tools, and attempted sexual imposition. Webb allegedly exchanged messages with an undercover officer arranging for a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old girl, and investigators took him into custody when he voluntarily arrived for the meeting in Beaver Township.

The following eight suspects were arrested after investigators said the suspects responded to online advertisements placed by law enforcement. The suspects allegedly exchanged messages with an undercover officer arranging for a sexual encounter for-hire with an adult female. Each suspect was arrested on a charge of soliciting after voluntarily arriving for the meetings in Beaver Township.

Sohail Awan, 31, Youngstown

Michael Canaday, 53, East Palestine

Joseph Geraci, 61, Verona, Pennsylvania

Ryan Grossman, 42, Aliquippa, Pennsylvania

Gary Harmon, 46, New Castle, Pennsylvania

Charles Hart, 63, Cochranton, Pennsylvania

Christopher Jones, 42, Berlin Center

Paul McHugh, 32, Salem

Hart and Canaday were also arrested on charges of possessing criminal tools, and Awan was also arrested on charges of possession of a controlled substance and illegal use or possession of drug paraphernalia.

Additional undercover operations are planned in the future.

Central Ohio Consultant Accused of Using Clients’ Fees for Personal Benefit

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced a lawsuit against a Central Ohio consultant accused of using the fees she charged her clients for her personal benefit.

The lawsuit accuses Kelly S. McElravey, who operated Disability Ohio Assistance, LLC, of pocketing at least $22,000 in client fees that were supposed to be used for disability retirement benefit applications.

Consumers complained that instead of receiving help to apply for disability retirement benefits from their public pension plans, McElravey missed filing deadlines, lied or failed to provide information about the status of their applications, and did not respond to their complaints.

The Ohio Attorney General’s Office received 10 complaints from consumers but believe other consumers may be unaware of issues with McElravey’s business.

The lawsuit, filed in Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, accuses McElravey of violating Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act. She faces five counts: unfair, deceptive or unconscionable representations; failure to deliver services; failure to disclose the business’s precarious financial situation; evading contractual obligations and failure to provide adequate customer service; and, failing to maintain and return confidential customer records.

The lawsuit seeks restitution for consumers, an end to any violations of Ohio consumer protection laws, and civil penalties.

Attorney General DeWine urges consumers to do their research before signing contracts or paying fees. Consumers should check both the company name and the name of the owner or individuals involved with the operation, as some operators change business names regularly to make it harder for consumers to find them.

To research a company, search for complaints on file with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the Better Business Bureau, check business filings with the Ohio Secretary of State, conduct internet searches, and check court websites for legal action.

Consumers should report potential scams to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or by calling 800-282-0515.

Ballot Board Certifies Prevention of Puppy Mills Amendment As Single Ballot Issue

COLUMBUS – The Ohio Ballot Board certified the proposed constitutional amendment regarding the prevention of puppy mills as a single ballot issue.

Petitioners will now need to collect 305,591 signatures, which is equal to 10 percent of the total vote cast for governor in 2014, in order to place the issue on the ballot.

As part of the total number of signatures needed to place the measure on the ballot, petitioners must also have collected signatures from at least 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties, and within each of those counties, collect enough signatures equal to five percent of the total vote cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election, 2014.

Secretary Husted serves as the Chairman of the Ohio Ballot Board in his official capacity as the Ohio Secretary of State. Other members include State Senator Jay Hottinger, State Senator Michael Skindell, State Representative Kathleen Clyde and Mr. William Morgan. Ballot Board meetings are open to the public.

Updated Information Regarding the Equifax Breach

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine offered updated information for consumers following the recent announcement by Equifax of a major data breach affecting over 5 million Ohioans. Equifax, one of the nation’s three major credit reporting bureaus, has stated that their system was compromised between May and July of this year and includes names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and driver’s license numbers.

“The news of the Equifax breach was, and remains, absolutely shocking,” Attorney General DeWine said. “It’s important for consumers to understand the new information that has come to light in recent days so that they can make informed decisions moving forward, and I will continue to press Equifax to do the right things to help affected consumers.”

Attorney General DeWine offered the following updates that can be found on Equifax’s website:

Arbitration Clauses: Equifax has stated enrollment in “TrustedID Premier”– their product offered in response to the breach – will not subject an enrollee to mandatory arbitration. According to Equifax, the arbitration clauses originally included in the Terms of Use on the site www.equifaxsecurity2017.com have now been removed, and the Terms of Use on www.equifax.com do not apply to the TrustedID Premier product being offered to consumers as a result of the breach.

Waiver of Rights: Equifax has also stated that the Terms of Use do not create a waiver of class action rights. Specifically, Equifax states, “ to be as clear as possible, we will not apply any arbitration clause or class action waiver against consumers for claims related to the free products offered in response to the cybersecurity incident or for claims related to the cybersecurity incident itself.”

Charge for Security Freeze: Equifax has agreed to waive fees for placing and removing security freezes through November 21, 2017. Additionally, consumers who paid for a security freeze starting at 5:00pm on September 7, 2017 will receive a refund. Note that you are still required to pay for security freezes through TransUnion and Experian should you choose to place a freeze there; to do this, you must contact TransUnion and Experian directly.

To learn more about the breach, including whether you were affected, and to find updated information, visit www.equifaxsecurity2017.com or call 866-447-7559.

In response to the breach, Attorney General DeWine, along with 42 other attorneys general, issued a letter urging Equifax to reconsider some of its current practices in response to the breach. Among other things, the letter asks Equifax to reconsider and cease marketing fee-based products; to extend the TrustedID Premier enrollment deadline; and to extend the hours to 24-hours-a-day and to properly staff the call center.

Other tips consumers should consider include:

Check your credit report. Monitoring your credit report can help you identify signs of potential identity theft. You are entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies. Visit www.AnnualCreditReport.com to access those reports. You can pull all three at once, or you can stagger pulling your reports throughout the year.

Place an initial fraud alert on your credit report. Contact one of the three major credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion — to place an initial fraud alert, which will stay on your credit report for 90 days. The alert is free of charge and will make it more difficult for someone to open credit in your name.

Consider placing a security freeze on your credit report. A security freeze essentially puts a lock on your credit so that most third parties can’t access your report. This helps protect you from unauthorized accounts being opened in your name. In Ohio, security freezes are permanent until you lift them.

Beware of scams related to the breach. Con artists may pretend to have information about the breach or they may falsely claim to want to help you. Some calls or messages may be scams designed to steal your money or personal information. Don’t give out personal information to those who contact you unexpectedly (even if they say they want to help you) and be wary about clicking on links or downloading attachments in messages.

Monitor your bank accounts. Look for suspicious activity. If you find errors, immediately notify your bank or credit provider.

When it’s tax season, consider filing early. File your taxes as soon as you have all of the information necessary to file so that there is less of a chance for someone to fraudulently file on your behalf. This is especially important if you know your information has been compromised.

Victims of identity theft should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioProtects.org. Please note that the Ohio Attorney General recommends checking your credit reports first, and then contacting the Ohio Attorney General’s Office only if your information appears to have been misused.

Seven Indicted Following Drug Trafficking Investigation

McCONNELSVILLE, Ohio —Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Morgan County Prosecutor Mark Howdyshell, Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks, and members of the Washington Morgan Noble Major Crimes Task Force announced the indictments of seven individuals suspected of operating and/or participating in a large-scale drug trafficking organization with ties to Morgan, Washington, Muskingum, and Franklin counties.

Investigators with the Washington Morgan Noble Major Crimes Task Force, which is part of the Ohio Attorney General’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, began investigating the drug trafficking organization more than a year ago, uncovering alleged crimes related to the trafficking of cocaine, heroin, and prescription drugs.

Morgan County Prosecutor Mark Howdyshell presented evidence in the case to a Morgan County grand jury this week, which indicted the following individuals for alleged crimes that occurred between April 7, 2016 and September 14, 2017.

Rodney Duane Mayle, 49, Zanesville, 14 counts:

One count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a felony of the first degree*

Four counts of trafficking in cocaine, felonies of the first degree

Five counts of trafficking in cocaine, felonies of the second degree

Four counts of trafficking in cocaine, felonies of the third degree

Brandon Lee Kennedy, 29, Stockport, 7 counts:

One count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a felony of the first degree*

One count of trafficking in cocaine, felony of the third degree

One count of aggravated trafficking in drugs (hydrocodone), felony of the third degree

Three counts of trafficking in cocaine, felonies of the fourth degree

One count of trafficking in cocaine, felony of the fifth degree

Richard Leroy Mayle, 74, Cutler, 6 counts:

One count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, felony of the first degree*

One count of trafficking in heroin, felony of the second degree

Two counts of aggravated trafficking in drugs (hydrocodone), felonies of the fourth degree

One count of trafficking in cocaine, felony of the fourth degree

One count of trafficking in drugs (diazepam), felony of the fifth degree

Gary Edward Scott, 44, Columbus, 1 count:

One count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a felony of the first degree*

Douglas Kaltenbach, 56, Chesterhill, 1 count:

One count of having weapons under disability, felony of the third degree

Leanna K. Seyfried, 58, Chesterhill, 1 count:

One count of aggravated trafficking in drugs (cocaine), felony of the third degree

Tyrone Christopher Holbert, 30, Chesterhill, 1 count

One count of possession of a controlled substance (cocaine), felony of the first degree*

Charges with an asterisk include one or more forfeiture specifications. Copies of the indictments can be found here.

Task force members served more than a dozen search warrants in Washington, Morgan, Franklin, Muskingum, and Athens counties last week in connection with the investigation, which remains ongoing.

“Drug abuse is wreaking havoc on lives all across the state, and we must hold accountable those who are selling drugs and making a living off of addiction,” said Attorney General DeWine. “I appreciate the dedication of the local investigators and prosecutors who have worked extremely hard to break up this drug trafficking organization.”

The Washington Morgan Noble Major Crimes Task Force is led by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and includes authorities from the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office, Noble County Sheriff’s Office, Marietta Police Department, Belpre Police Department, McConnelsville Police Department, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Morgan County Prosecutor’s Office, Washington County Prosecutor’s Office, and Noble County Prosecutor’s Office.

The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Columbus Police Department, Muskingum County CODE Narcotics Task Force, Fairfield Hocking Athens Major Crimes Unit, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, and Athens County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the investigation.

Established in 1986, the Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission assists local law enforcement agencies in combating organized crime and corrupt activities through the creation of multi-jurisdictional task forces. The commission is composed of members of the law enforcement community and is chaired by the Ohio Attorney General.

Lawsuit Seeks Reimbursement from Cincinnati-Area Used Car Dealer Accused of Title Violations

CINCINNATI — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced a lawsuit against a car dealer for failing to deliver motor vehicle titles to consumers.

The lawsuit against now-defunct AutoExpress of Cincinnati, Inc. and operator Lonny D. Donnerberg, seeks reimbursement for the Title Defect Recision Fund, which helps reimburse consumers who experience title problems after buying a vehicle from a dealership. The lawsuit also seeks to prevent Donnerberg from obtaining a car dealer or salesperson license in the future.

According to the lawsuit, AutoExpress of Cincinnati, which last operated at 203 West Main Street in Amelia, went out of business and left dozens of consumers without titles for vehicles they had purchased. Claims totaling more than $53,800 were paid from the Title Defect Recision Fund to resolve consumers’ title issues.

The lawsuit, filed in Clermont County Court of Common Pleas, accuses Lonny D. Donnerberg and AutoExpress of violating Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act and Certificate of Motor Vehicle Title Act.

Consumers who experience car title problems or who have other consumer complaints should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.

Ohio Library Council, State Library of Ohio Partner to Increase Addiction Awareness

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, the State Library of Ohio, and the Ohio Library Council announced a new effort aimed at increasing awareness about opioid abuse and addiction.

Drug Addiction Affects All Ohioans

During today’s Ohio Library Council Convention and Expo in Dayton, Attorney General DeWine announced the distribution of opioid addiction awareness posters to libraries across the state. The Ohio Library Council and State Library of Ohio will be making the posters available to Ohio’s 251 public library systems and 146 academic libraries at higher education institutions.

Libraries are encouraged to display the posters for staff and the general public. The posters list the warning signs of opioid abuse or addiction and the signs of an overdose. The posters also include a statewide hotline number that those looking for assistance can call.

“It is incredibly important that we reach as many people as we can to alert them to the signs of addiction and the signs of an overdose,” said Attorney General DeWine. “By displaying these posters in libraries across Ohio, we can continue to spread the word about this devastating epidemic. I’m grateful to the Ohio Library Council, State Library of Ohio, and libraries across the state for their willingness to offer this information to library patrons.”

“The opioid crisis is having an impact on families all across Ohio. Providing information to people about where and how they can get help is one step in addressing this crisis,” said State Librarian Beverly Cain. “The State Library of Ohio is pleased to partner with Attorney General DeWine and the Ohio Library Council to make this informational poster available in public and academic libraries throughout the state. We are working together to assist people in need.”

“As centers of the community, Ohio’s libraries can help educate the public, provide information, and offer resources for patrons struggling with addiction and their families,” said Ohio Library Council Executive Director Doug Evans. “We are constantly looking at the needs of the community and can work with local agencies to help combat the crisis.”

Signs of opioid abuse or addiction include:

Sudden dramatic weight loss

Changes in expected emotional response and rapid mood swings

Dramatic changes in sleep patterns

Constipation without reasonable explanation

Small or pinpoint pupils

Unexplained missing personal items and money

Symptoms of an opioid overdose include:

Bluish nail beds and lips, pale or grayish skin tone

Noisy and irregular breathing, respiratory arrest, cardiac arrest

Other local agencies interested in receiving a free, customized version of the attached poster should email heroinunit@ohioattorneygeneral.gov.

Husted Receives ViaQuest Conference Honoree Award

COLUMBUS – Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted was recognized with ViaQuest’s Conference Honoree Award as part of its 2017 Annual Conference. The award is given to individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership in support of people with developmental, physical and behavioral disabilities.

“The accomplishments of Jon Husted have been very well documented,” said Rich Johnson, President and CEO of ViaQuest. “But it is not so much his accomplishments that put him on this stage as our conference honoree – but more importantly – how he leads by example.”

Johnson cited the partnership between the Secretary of State’s office and the Cleveland Sight Center as a recent example of Husted’s commitment to supporting individuals with disabilities. Through the partnership, the Cleveland Sight Center now manages the Secretary of State’s Business Services Call Center. The results have been significant as 20 percent more calls are now being answered and the average wait time has dropped from more than five minutes to just 14 seconds.

“We all have a role to play in serving each other whether that be volunteering, getting into public service or whatever you think is best to lift up those around you,” Secretary Husted said. “So always remember, just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you don’t have abilities.”

ViaQuest is a value-based healthcare company that employs nearly 2,000 individuals who are dedicated to serving individuals living with disabilities.

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Sunbury News Staff