Arrests in Human Trafficking Investigation


Staff Reports



COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and members of the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force announced today (March 14) the arrests of four individuals accused of trafficking nearly a dozen women in the Columbus area.

The Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, which is part of Ohio Attorney General DeWine’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, began investigating the case in 2016 after receiving several tips regarding an alleged human trafficking ring.

The investigation found that the individuals allegedly trafficked women over a two year period through the use of online sex advertising. The group allegedly targeted women who were addicted to heroin.

“Over the course of the investigation, task force members identified and rescued a number of human trafficking victims who fell prey to this alleged human trafficking organization,” said Attorney General DeWine. “I’m pleased that we were able to get the victims help and that the suspects are now facing charges.”

The following four suspects were arrested today:

Curtis D. Gossett, 59, Columbus:

  • Trafficking in persons – commercial sex acts, two counts, felonies of the first degree
  • Engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a felony of the first degree
  • Compelling prostitution, two counts, felonies of the third degree
  • Promoting prostitution, ten counts, felonies of the fourth degree
  • Money laundering, a felony of the third degree

Stacey A. Rockey, 44, Lancaster:

  • Trafficking in persons – commercial sex acts, two counts, felonies of the first degree
  • Engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a felony of the first degree
  • Compelling prostitution, two counts, felonies of the third degree
  • Promoting prostitution, four counts, felonies of the fourth degree

Christina B. Austin, 28, Columbus:

  • Trafficking in persons – commercial sex acts, a felony of the first degree
  • Engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a felony of the first degree
  • Compelling prostitution, a felony of the third degree
  • Promoting prostitution, three counts, felonies of the fourth degree

Jeffrey M. Bagley, 37, Columbus:

  • Trafficking in persons – commercial sex acts, a felony of the first degree
  • Engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a felony of the first degree
  • Compelling prostitution, a felony of the third degree
  • Promoting prostitution, six counts, felonies of the fourth degree

“Some people have a misguided belief that prostitution is a victimless crime. Men who pay for sex are contributing to sex trafficking and keeping these women in a state of sex slavery,” said Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force Commander Sergeant Mark Rapp.

A fifth suspect who was indicted as part of the investigation, Brooke M. Adkins, 26, of Columbus, is charged with possession of heroin and aggravated possession of drugs.

Authorities with the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office assisted the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force with today’s arrests. The case is being prosecuted by the office of Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien.

The Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force is a coalition of local, county, state and federal agencies from the Columbus Division of Police, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations, Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, Powell Police Department, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office and the Delaware County Prosecutor’s Office. The task force works in cooperation with the Salvation Army of Central Ohio, which provides assistance to human trafficking victims.

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.

Author JD Vance Endorses Mike DeWine for Governor at Opioid Panel Discussion in Dayton

DAYTON – Mike DeWine and Jon Husted joined author JD Vance, Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer, and Mike Ward of the Cornerstone Project for a panel discussion about responses to the opioid epidemic and Mike DeWine and Jon Husted’s 12-point action plan.

“Mike DeWine has already done so much to fight the opioid epidemic in Ohio that has destroyed families and claimed so many lives,” said JD Vance. “The fact that he has made his 12-point action plan to end the opioid epidemic the centerpiece of his campaign shows that Mike DeWine is the leader with the vision and experience to lead Ohio.”

The event highlighted both Montgomery County’s progress fighting the opioid epidemic through innovative law enforcement partnerships and the process of getting people in recovery employed with Dayton area businesses. The event also featured moving personal stories from people in recovery.

“It’s no secret that Montgomery County has been hit hard by this drug epidemic but they’re seeing positive results through their collaboration,” said Mike DeWine. “These innovative partnerships between law enforcement and the treatment community are one part of our 12-point action plan that I will bring to all of Ohio as governor.”

Surgeon General’s Naloxone Advisory – Impact on OH

Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued a Public Health Advisory Thursday, emphasizing the importance of the overdose-reversing drug naloxone.

The AMA strongly endorses the Surgeon General’s advisory, and has encouraged physicians to co-prescribe naloxone for all patients at risk of overdose. In order to truly make a difference in this epidemic, policymakers must push insurers to remove barriers to care, including making all forms of naloxone readily available and covered by insurance plans with minimal or no cost-sharing.

140 pounds of meth seized from Hudson warehouse; believed to be largest bust in Ohio history

Federal authorities say they have seized more than 140 pounds of methamphetamine from a Hudson warehouse in what is believed to be the largest meth bust in Ohio’s history.

Thirty-six-year-old Tyrone Rogers, of Cleveland, was arrested along with Mexican nationals Hector Manuel Ramos-Nevarez, 26, and Gilbert Treviso Garcia, 24. All three are charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine.

“These seizures are yet another example of the prevalence of drugs and the demand for drugs in the Cleveland area and surrounding communities,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Timothy Plancon said in a statement. “The DEA continues our efforts to target drug traffickers especially those contributing to the opioid epidemic in America.”

Officials took 82 pounds of crystal meth from the location on the 7500 block of Olde Eight Road on March 24. They were executing a delayed-notice search warrant, leading the three suspects to believed they had been robbed. That’s when Rogers got the “green light” to kill who he believed stole the drugs from his Mexican supplier, according to intercepted phone calls.

Authorities went back to the location and arrested all three men later that day, believing they might harm someone they incorrectly believed took the drugs. During the second search, an additional 60 pounds of liquid meth were discovered.

“Although we in Northeast Ohio are far from the border, these cases demonstrate that the threat posed by Mexican criminal organizations to our region is very real,” U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said. “International drug trafficking organizations are active right here in our backyard and they seek to profit from the misery of our friends and neighbors struggling with addiction”

The meth bust came the same week after another Mexican national was arrested on State Route 8 in Akron for having 44 pounds of heroin. Octavio Barragan-Manzo was indicted Tuesday on one count of possession with intent to distribute.

“Law enforcement in Ohio is working every day to stop those bringing these deadly drugs into our state,” Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said. “Task forces operating as part of my office’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission will continue to work in partnership with state, local, and federal authorities to intercept drugs before they can be abused.”

Attorney General DeWine Files Consumer Protection Lawsuit Against Tom’s Toys Dealership

PORT CLINTON — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Tom’s Toys, a car and RV dealership that had locations in Port Clinton, Springfield, and Lancaster, for failing to deliver vehicle titles to customers.

The lawsuit accuses the dealership and owner Thomas E. Owens of violating state consumer protection laws, and it seeks reimbursement for consumers and for the Title Defect Recision Fund.

“Our goal is to help consumers,” Attorney General DeWine said. “We’ve assisted dozens of people who have filed complaints against this seller, and we’re taking this action to protect consumers and the state of Ohio.”

In the past two years, over 60 complaints have been filed against Tom’s Toys. To assist consumers, specialists in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office have worked to address complaints and help consumers obtain titles. In some cases, payments were made from the Title Defect Recision Fund to resolve title complaints involving used vehicles.

The Attorney General’s lawsuit, filed in the Ottawa County Common Pleas Court, accuses Tom’s Toys and Thomas Owens of violating Ohio’s Certificate of Motor Vehicle Title Act. It seeks a permanent injunction to prevent any further violations of the law, reimbursement for consumers found to be harmed by the defendants’ unfair practices, and reimbursement for the Title Defect Recision funds that were used to resolve title problems in this case.

A copy of the lawsuit is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.

Home Repair Contractor Accused of Failing to Deliver Services to Consumers in Northeast Ohio

CANTON — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a consumer protection lawsuit against a Carrollton man accused of failing to deliver home improvement services to consumers in northeast Ohio.

Jason S. McCoy, operating under the name M.J. McCoy Electric, is accused of violating state consumer protection laws.

According to the lawsuit, McCoy advertised a variety of home improvement services, including electrical work, new construction, and remodeling, but after taking large deposits from consumers, he failed to provide the promised work. He also allegedly used other business names, including Hunny Do Construction, Honey Do, and HunnyDo LLC.

Nine consumers have filed complaints with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office or Better Business Bureau reporting about $55,000 in total losses.

“This individual has shown a pattern of taking money and not doing the work he was paid to do,” Attorney General DeWine said. “We’re taking this action to protect consumers.”

The Attorney General’s lawsuit, filed in the Stark County Court of Common Pleas, seeks an end to any violations of Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act or Home Solicitation Sales Act and reimbursement for consumers.

Attorney General DeWine encourages consumers to research home improvement contractors carefully by reviewing consumer complaints, talking to past customers, and obtaining written estimates from other businesses before making a final decision.

Consumers who suspect an unfair or deceptive business practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515 or www.OhioProtects.org.

Attorney General DeWine, 48 Other AGs Urge Passage of Law Improving States’ Ability to Investigate and Prosecute Abuse and Neglect of Medicaid Patients

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, along with a bipartisan coalition of 48 other state attorneys general and the National Association of Attorneys General, expressed support for a bill that would ease federal restrictions that limit states’ ability to investigate and prosecute the abuse and neglect of Medicaid beneficiaries.

“This change is vitally important because it eliminates the blinders current law places on Medicaid Fraud Control Units’ ability to detect, investigate, and prosecute cases of abuse and neglect of Medicaid patients,” wrote Attorney General DeWine and the other attorneys general in their letter. “Since the current statute was enacted decades ago, substantial growth has occurred in home and community-based services, office-based services, transportation services, and other settings that are neither health care facilities or board and care facilities.”

The bill, H.R. 3891, introduced by U.S. Representatives Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.), would expand the authority of state Medicaid Fraud Control Units (MCFUs), most of which are housed within state attorney general offices, to detect, investigate, and prosecute Medicaid patient abuse in non-institutional settings. Under current law, MFCUs may investigate and prosecute patient abuse and neglect only if it occurs in a health care facility or in some circumstances, in a board and care facility. This means other cases of abuse and neglect of Medicaid patients – such as in a home health care setting – currently fall outside the unit’s authority.

The attorneys general also stressed the importance of expanding this authority in light of the national opioid epidemic.

“Consider, for example, a situation in which a Medicaid beneficiary in a home or community-based setting is provided prescription opioid painkillers in an unlawful manner, resulting in death or great bodily harm to the patients. Under current law, although the patient harm caused by the distribution of those opioids may have been criminal, our MFCUs would be hampered or prevented from investigating or prosecuting the case of patient abuse because it occurred in a setting other than a health care facility or board and care facility,” the attorneys general added in the letter.

A copy of the letter of support sent to the bill’s sponsors is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s website at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.

Crew Statement

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine issued the following statement following Precourt Sports Ventures’ (PSV) and Major League Soccer’s (MLS) letter to the City of Columbus:

“This is a good first step for PSV and Major League Soccer to formally state that interested parties should contact them with offers to purchase the rights to operate the Crew in Columbus. This is tacit recognition by PSV and MLS that having accepted public funding, they have responsibilities under Ohio’s law.

“I want to make clear that we intend to press ahead with our case. We will still seek for the court to confirm that Ohio Revised Code 9.67 and all provisions therein apply to PSV and MLS and that over the next six months they must provide a reasonable opportunity for local investors to indeed purchase the rights to keep Crew SC in Columbus.”

More Tax Scams Reported as Filing Deadline Nears

March numbers double January’s numbers

COLUMBUS — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine warned that more consumers are reporting tax scams ahead of the April 17 tax-filing deadline.

In March, the Ohio Attorney General’s Help Center logged more than 340 reports of tax scams, compared to about 160 in January and 280 in February.

“Scam artists cast a wide net. They know not everyone will fall for it, but some will,” Attorney General DeWine said. “We encourage people to be very careful, especially this time of year. Scam artists will try to scare you to death, saying they’re the IRS and they’re coming to throw you in jail if you don’t pay them immediately. The real IRS doesn’t operate like that.”

Among the tax scams reported to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the IRS impostor phone scam is the most common. In this scam, people generally get a call saying the federal government is taking action against them for tax problems and they must call back immediately (and eventually pay) to resolve the problem.

Tips to avoid the scams include:

Don’t trust threatening callers. If you receive an unexpected phone call from someone who threatens to arrest you for not paying taxes, be very skeptical, especially if you never received any written notice.

Avoid making payments over the phone. Don’t trust someone who demands that you pay immediately over the phone using a gift card or by sending a wire transfer. These are preferred payment methods for scam artists, because once sent, it’s very difficult to trace or recover the money. The real IRS won’t demand that you pay over the phone using one of these specific methods.

Don’t respond to illegal robocalls in any way. Don’t interact with the caller, and don’t call a number left on your phone or in a message. Responding to a scam call can result in even more calls because it lets con artists know that your phone number belongs to a real person.

Don’t always trust caller ID. Scammers may “spoof” a phone number, making the number on your caller ID appear to be from the IRS, even when it’s not. For example, a call may appear to be coming from a 202 (Washington D.C.) area code, when it’s actually coming from another country.

Check into call-blocking options. Find out if services are available through your phone carrier, your phone itself, or third-party apps to help you stop unwanted calls.

IRS or U.S. Treasury impersonation scams can be reported to the U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at www.treasury.gov/tigta or 800-366-4484. Consumers also can contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515 for help detecting a scam.

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Staff Reports