Career in limbo, Steelers LB Shazier helping in other ways
By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer
Wednesday, October 10
PITTSBURGH (AP) — At least one portion of Ryan Shazier’s daily routine hasn’t changed much from the previous time the Pittsburgh Steelers were preparing to face Cincinnati, even if the rest of the injured linebacker’s life is hardly the same.
Shazier still makes his way to the club’s practice facility around 7 a.m. most days. Any teammate willing to drop by Shazier’s usual spot can feel free to pull out a notebook and start jotting Shazier’s thoughts while he serves as both peer and professor.
“He’s just trying to find little nitpick things,” Pittsburgh rookie safety Terrell Edmunds said.
It is Shazier’s way of staying connected to the game even as he continues his long and inspiring recovery from that frightening moment last December when the Pro Bowler lowered his helmet to hit Bengals wide receiver Josh Malone late in the first quarter, a play that ended with Shazier clutching his lower back in agony while players knelt around him in prayer and Paul Brown Stadium feel eerily silent.
Ten months later, the sight of Shazier being taken off the field on a stretcher before being placed in an ambulance remains fresh as the Steelers (2-2-1) brace themselves for their annual visit to Cincinnati (4-1) on Sunday.
“It was just a really weird feeling after that happened,” Pittsburgh linebacker L.J. Fort said. “You’d make a good play but nobody was really jumping around or was excited or anything like that, so it was really sobering moment and brought to the forefront that football is not the most important thing in life.”
Playing amid a mixture of fear for their friend and uncertainty over Shazier’s status, the Steelers rallied for a 23-20 victory.
Asked how they managed to recover emotionally in time to put together a stirring rally, they’re still not sure. In the immediate aftermath of Shazier’s injury there was only chaos and confusion.
Outside linebacker Bud Dupree admitted he and inside linebacker Vince Williams — two of Shazier’s closest friends on the team — were under the impression Shazier had been blindsided by a member of the Bengals. The two spent the rest of the first half looking for revenge.
“We were just walking around trying (to hit) the first person we see,” Dupree said. “We weren’t worried about football. We wanted to take up for our brother.”
In the end, it’s Shazier who has taken up for his teammates.
Though the 26-year-old remains open to the possibility of playing again — he’s able to get around the practice field without assistance these days and his practice clothes remain hanging in his locker much as they have been before he got hurt — he’s intent on helping in other ways.
His mere presence provides an emotional lift, but Shazier is intent on being something far beyond an avatar for inspiration. He’s become a go-between of sorts between the coaching staff and the defense. He can cut through the clutter and deliver some “real talk” when necessary.
During last Sunday’s 41-17 romp over Atlanta, Shazier sat on the bench with a tablet in hand. After every series the inside linebackers would crowd around him looking for instruction and insight. Shazier would offer words of encouragement when necessary or tips on how to avoid mistakes.
“Since he’s not playing, his mental part of the game is so great,” Dupree said. “He shares a lot of stuff with us. He lets us know stuff ahead of time before the coaches even tell us. We already know it. It keeps us on our toes.”
And it keeps Shazier engaged. There remains no timetable for when he will make a decision on whether returning to play is feasible. There’s so much going on in his life — from his physical recovery to his new role with the team to becoming a father for a second time — it hardly matters.
Football remains an integral part of his plan no matter how his physical recovery goes. When asked if he believes Shazier could become an effective coach whenever his playing career ends, linebacker Tyler Matakevich nods enthusiastically.
“You look at him, what he’s been through, how he’s handled it combined with his love for the game and his mind for the game, it’s amazing,” Matakevich said. “It hasn’t changed him. He’s been the same guy since the day I got here.”
And in a way, Pittsburgh is counting on it. Shazier will be back on the turf in Cincinnati with the rest of the team on Sunday afternoon as the Steelers look for their first winning streak of the season. When the defense runs onto the field, he’ll linger behind, a feeling that will probably never truly feel normal.
Yet if this is the best way for him to contribute, he’ll take it. So will the teammates who have come to rely on him in so many ways.
“The only time he really doesn’t come is when he’s tired from rehab,” Dupree said. “You see him on the sideline. He’s active at practice. In the meetings. Never sleeping. Attacking every day like he’s still here.”
NOTES: S Morgan Burnett (groin), LB L.J. Fort (ankle) and WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday. … LB Vince Williams (hamstring) and Edmunds (calf) were full participants.
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Loose Moose: Moustakas brings pivotal playoff experience
By GENARO C. ARMAS
AP Sports Writer
MILWAUKEE (AP) — It sounds, at first, like a long, drawn out “Booooo!”
But look at the name on the scoreboard and it becomes apparent what fans at Miller Park are really chanting.
Mike Moustakas has been a hit with fans and teammates with the Milwaukee Brewers since being acquired from the Kansas City Royals two-plus months ago. They appreciate his solid third base defense, and his left-handed power stroke was key in getting Milwaukee through the NL Division Series. In the clubhouse, his focused demeanor and extensive postseason experience have made him a source of steadiness for a club playing in the postseason for the first time since 2011.
“Amazing, amazing. He’s a great teammate,” said utility man Hernan Perez, who has a locker near Moustakas. “He’s been in this situation.”
Moustakas and current Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain helped Kansas City reach the World Series twice, including their championship run in 2015. Moustakas is one step away from a Series return with Milwaukee. Game 1 of the NL Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers is Friday night at Miller Park.
Moustakas hit .364 in a three-game sweep of the Colorado Rockies in the NLDS with two RBIs. He had a game-ending, two-out RBI single in the 10th inning in Game 1 and an RBI single in eighth inning of Game 2 to help break open what had been a 1-0 game.
A cool hand in tense moments. Exactly what Milwaukee had in mind for its midseason acquisition.
“The more experience that you can gain, the better off you’re going to be,” Moustakas said before a team workout on Wednesday.
Overall, Moustakas is hitting .234 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 34 games over eight postseason series.
“But his experience, it’s important. It really is,” manager Craig Counsell said last week. “Making sure we don’t put the result ahead of the process in our at-bats, and I think Moose is doing a heck of a job of that.”
His good friend Cain helped ease the transition to Milwaukee, but the Brewers also had to get creative to add Moustakas to the lineup, with Travis Shaw already on the team as the regular third baseman.
Someone had to move.
Shaw accepted a switch to second base, a new position and potentially awkward fit for the 230-pound slugger. The rationale was that the Brewers employ so many infield shifts, lining up at second wouldn’t be a hard transition. Moustakas also volunteered to move over.
Shaw stuck at second and has played fairly well, allowing the Brewers to have three lefty bats in the lineup to go with MVP front-runner Christian Yelich.
“It says volumes of the kind of player that he is and the kind of person he is,” Moustakas said about Shaw. “I think the unselfishness of him and this team is why I’m a good fit, because they let me come in here, play third. Just be myself and that’s huge.”
The playoff run in Milwaukee winds down an eventful year for Moustakas that started with a disappointing offseason.
After setting the Royals’ single-season home run record with 38 in 2017, Moustakas filed for free agency. He rejected a $17.4 million qualifying offer in November.
Moustakas never received the multiyear, mega-million dollar contract he and his agent Scott Boras had anticipated. The Royals signed Moustakas to a one-year, $6.5 million contract in March with a mutual option for 2019.
“It’s definitely been an interesting year, but I’m very happy with the way everything turned out,” Moustakas said last week. “I was able to sign back with Kansas City, I got traded here and now I’m in the postseason again. Everything happens for a reason. … I’m just really happy to be here.”
NOTE: Counsell said Wednesday he had yet to decide on the makeup of the starting rotation or pitching staff against the Dodgers. The Brewers used a bullpen game in the Game 1 win over Colorado in the NLDS. “We have to think about this series differently and covering the number of innings we have to cover,” he said.
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October 11, 2018
Fairfield County Used Car Seller Accused of Failing to Deliver Vehicle Titles to Consumers
(LANCASTER, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced a consumer protection lawsuit against a Carroll, Ohio, used car seller accused of failing to deliver vehicle titles to central Ohio consumers.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit accuses 2 Guys Selling Cars LLC and its operator of violating state consumer protection laws.
According to the lawsuit, 2 Guys Selling Cars last operated at 4250 Coonpath Road in Carroll. More than 30 consumers filed complaints against 2 Guys Selling Cars, with most saying they did not receive the title to a vehicle they bought from the dealership.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office assisted consumers, in some cases making payments from the Title Defect Recision Fund, which helps resolve certain title problems. Payments from the fund totaled $57,863 according to the lawsuit.
In the lawsuit, filed in the Fairfield County Court of Common Pleas, the Attorney General seeks reimbursement for the Title Defect Recision Fund, reimbursement for affected consumers, and an order to prohibit the dealership’s operator, Robert A. Ventresco, from being granted an auto dealer license in Ohio.
In a similar case, the Attorney General also filed a lawsuit against Capital City Car Brokers LLC, a dealership last operating on Sullivant Avenue and on East Livingston Avenue in Columbus. The dealership is accused of failing to deliver vehicle titles, causing $4,920 in payouts from the Title Defect Recision Fund, and violating a previous court order against it. The lawsuit is pending in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.
Consumers who suspect an unfair or deceptive sales practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioProtects.org or 800-282-0515.
October 11, 2018
More than 100 Charges Filed in Human Trafficking Investigation
Nearly 90 Potential Human Trafficking Victims Identified in Ongoing Investigation
(YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio)— Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene, and Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains announced today that more than 100 charges – including human trafficking, child pornography, and sexual assault charges – have been filed in connection with an alleged sex trafficking ring in Mahoning County.
Prosecutors with the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office presented the case to a Mahoning County grand jury today, resulting in a total of 104 charges against five individuals. The charges stem from an ongoing human trafficking investigation led by the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force, which is part of Ohio Attorney General DeWine’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission.
The investigation began in July after authorities received a tip alleging that Charles D. Krusac, 78, of Austintown, was creating child pornography involving at least one area juvenile. The investigation then expanded to uncover a large-scale human trafficking ring in which Ronald D. Hellman, 51, of Youngstown, is accused of forcing multiple women and juveniles to engage in sexual conduct with himself, Krusac, and others.
Charges were filed against both Hellman and Krusac in August, and following today’s grand jury presentation, both suspects are now facing additional charges.
Krusac was charged today with the following 74 felony counts:
Trafficking in persons, nine counts
Illegal use of a minor in nudity oriented material or performance, nine counts
Pandering obscenity involving a minor, 46 counts
Rape, one count
Compelling prostitution, four counts
Promoting prostitution, five counts
Hellman was charged today with the following 22 felony counts:
Trafficking in persons, eight counts
Rape, six counts
Compelling prostitution, two counts
Promoting prostitution, six counts
During the course of the investigation, task force members also gathered evidence against two other individuals with alleged involvement in the human trafficking ring.
James Jaster, 73, of Youngstown, is charged with the following five counts:
Compelling prostitution, three counts
Promoting prostitution, two counts
Lori Jackson, 43, of Warren, is charged with the following two felony counts:
Trafficking in persons, one count
Compelling prostitution, one count
A fifth suspect, Elaine Hellman, 71, of Youngstown, was also charged today with one count of obstruction of justice for allegedly using her position as a police dispatcher to help Ronald Hellman, her son, avoid contact with law enforcement.
The charges filed today relate to a total of nine different adult and juvenile victims, however, the ongoing investigation has identified nearly 90 potential victims and additional charges are possible.
“This is a truly horrific case. Our investigation found that many of these victims faced violence if they tried to resist or their addictions were exploited to force their compliance,” said Attorney General DeWine. “Ohio continues to be a leader in the fight against human trafficking, and I commend our law enforcement team for working aggressively to break up this human trafficking ring and get help for the victims.”
“The results of this investigation and the number of victims involved and exploited over several years is extremely troubling,” said Sheriff Jerry Greene. “The number of man-hours put into this investigation by our task force brought about these arrests and charges, which re-affirms the fact that these types of task forces are a necessity in continuing to be aggressive with these types of crimes.”
“This is a result of cooperation among the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office, the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, and all agencies that are assigned to the Ohio Attorney General’s organized crime task force,” said Prosecutor Paul Gains. “I agree with Attorney General DeWine that this is a horrific case, and this highlights the need for effective law enforcement against those involved in human trafficking. Let me make it perfectly clear that these young women and girls are truly victims, and I encourage anyone with knowledge of human trafficking to contact their local police. That is the only chance these young women have is by incarcerating these human traffickers.”
Authorities suspect that there could be additional victims who have not yet been identified. Anyone with information related to this investigation is urged to contact the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Tip Line at 330-480-4940.
The Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force is led by the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office and includes representatives from the Austintown Police Department, Howland Township Police Department, Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office, Ohio Adult Parole Authority, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Ohio Investigative Unit, Ohio State Highway Patrol, and the Warren Police Department.
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.