PAINESVILLE, Ohio (WJW) — Eastlake City Council President John Meyers was one of six men charged with soliciting for sex following a human trafficking sting in Northeast Ohio.
The operation was coordinated by the Ohio Attorney General’s Northeast Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, Wickliffe police and Lake County sheriff’s deputies, according to a Tuesday release from Attorney General Dave Yost.
“The point of our task forces is to send a message to those who buy and sell human beings: We’re coming for you, we’re going to bust you and make sure everybody knows what you did. Don’t buy sex in Ohio!” Yost is quoted in the release. “Special thanks for [Lake County Sheriff Frank Leonbruno], whose office recently joined this task force and has hit the ground running.”
When reached by phone Tuesday, Meyers, 47, of Eastlake, deferred comment to his attorney, James O’Leary of Painesville, who could not immediately be reached for comment.
Five other men were charged:
- Ronald Bevier, 30, of Columbia Station
- Alvin Bridges, 47, of Euclid
- Andrew Champa, 40, of Wickliffe
- Garrett Kellogg, 20, of Strongsville
- Salvatore Longo, 44, of Beachwood
Each was summonsed to appear in Willoughby Municipal Court. Meyers’ court date has not yet been set, records show.
Under Ohio Revised Code, the charge of solicitation ranges from a first-degree misdemeanor to a fourth-degree felony if the prostitute is younger than 16.
The task force also identified four potential victims of human trafficking, who were offered social services, according to the release.
“The Lake County Sheriff’s Office is proud to be part of the Northeast Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force and proud of the collaborative effort of all the involved agencies,” Lake County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Robert Izzo is quoted in the release. “If even one victim of human trafficking can be identified and helped, then the operation is a success and worth the effort. We will continue to work to help identify those who are taking advantage of these victims and bring them to justice.”
The task force is led by the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department and includes the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations, Cleveland Police Department, MetroHealth Police Department, East Cleveland Police Department, Ohio Investigative Unit, Ashtabula County Sheriff’s Office and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.