A federal judge on Thursday agreed to remove alleged pimp Jeremy Mack’s attorneys from the case following allegations that one of the assistant federal public defenders representing him had crossed the line from advocate to witness.
U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi named Akron attorney Larry Whitney as Mack’s new lawyer.
Whitney said Thursday he couldn’t comment on the reasons for the removal of the Federal Public Defender’s Office from the case.
“The court felt it necessary that new counsel should take over,” he said.
Federal Public Defender Dennis Terez, who had declined to discuss the case Wednesday, did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.
Terez asked Lioi to allow his office to withdraw from the case Wednesday after Assistant U.S. Attorney Bridget Brennan accused Assistant Federal Public Defender Carolyn Kucharski of helping Mack pass messages, including letters and photos, to one of the women he’s accused of forcing into prostitution.
Mack and co-defendant Ashley Onysko were arrested by Elyria police in April for allegedly running an online prostitution ring out of a rented Tattersall Court home.
Federal authorities have since taken over the case and charged Mack with drug and sex trafficking for allegedly dealing drugs to the women and when their drug debts became too high, forcing them to engage in prostitution. According to court documents, some of the women saw as many as 10 clients in one day.
The victims have said that Mack forced them to stay at his house and maintained control through violence and fear.
Onysko, who has already pleaded guilty in the case and is awaiting sentencing, handled marketing the women, including a 16-year-old girl, in online advertising, managed the operation’s books and transported the women to meet with clients. She told authorities that she often carried drugs with her to give to the prostitutes so they would be able to perform.
Mack, however, has maintained that he didn’t force anyone to engage in prostitution. It was a position that Kucharski believed, according to a text message she sent to one of the alleged victims in the case in October.
Prosecutors have accused Mack of trying to manipulate witnesses in the case, including the alleged victim with whom Kucharski exchanged texts, phone calls and emails.
According to jailhouse calls Mack placed while incarcerated at a Youngstown prison and recorded by authorities, he viewed that alleged victim as a key witness in the case and wanted her to testify favorably for him.
Assistant Federal Public Defender Edward Bryan argued in court documents that Kucharski was communicating with the alleged victim to gather information for Mack’s trial, which had been slated to start earlier this week.
Prosecutors, however, viewed Kucharski’s communications as helping Mack circumvent a court order barring him from communicating with the alleged victim.
Whitney is supposed to update Lioi on the status of the case in two weeks.