It took less than a day of deliberations for a federal jury to convict Jeremy Mack of sex trafficking, drug distribution, conspiracy and witness tampering charges for running a prostitution ring out of a rented home on Elyria’s Tattersall Court.
Prosecutors had accused Mack, 38, of luring young women, including a 16-year-old girl, into his orbit by providing them with drugs, including cocaine and heroin, during testimony in the trial last week in U.S. District Court in Akron.
“With today’s verdict, Jeremy Mack’s time roaming our community and preying on the most vulnerable will finally come to an end,” U.S. Attorney for Northern Ohio Steven Dettelbach said in a news release.
Court documents said Mack would trade sex with the women for drugs, but when their drug debts became too much for them to pay, Mack then forced them into prostitution. Mack then held the women at his house while he served as their online pimp.
According to the FBI and prosecutors, Ashley Onysko would create online profiles for the women on websites such as Backpage.com and Craigslist advertising their “escort services.”
Between December 2012 and April 2013, when Elyria police raided the Tattersall Court home, FBI Special Agent Kelly Liberti wrote in an affidavit that Mack and Onysko advertised the services of 10 different women online.
In addition to creating the ads, Liberti wrote, Onysko set up appointments for the prostitutes at rates of $120 for 30 minutes and $220 for a full hour. Onysko also kept a ledger that detailed the prostitute’s drug debts to Mack and how much money they earned to pay down what they owed him.
Onysko, who is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty in the case and agreeing to cooperate, also told investigators that she often carried drugs with her to give to the women so they could perform with clients.
The women also told investigators that Mack ruled the house through fear, intimidation and violence, including holding them at gunpoint and performing strip searches on the women when drugs went missing in the house. In one instance, he choked one of the women and threatened to kill her, according to prosecutors.
One of Mack’s defense attorneys, Lawrence Whitney, declined to comment after the verdict because of his client’s upcoming sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for May.
But in letters sent to The Chronicle-Telegram in recent months, Mack has proclaimed his innocence and accused Onysko of being a “victim and a pawn of the government’s sinister motive to elicit fabricated testimony.”
Mack wrote in a January missive to The Chronicle-Telegram that he was the victim of “fictitious charges.”
“Now, I may not be innocent of all things, but those girls were no victims of mine! The many witnesses who were associated with myself and my girls, including the alleged victims themselves, know quite well who has victimized those girls,” Mack wrote. “The same ones pressuring them to sell their souls by insisting they get up there on that witness stand and lie against a man who was nothing but good to them.”
Even from his prison cell, prosecutors said Mack was trying to manipulate witnesses and get them to testify favorably. For instance, he once told his son, Toby Lewis, to “stick with the script,” according to court documents.
Lewis is facing state drug charges stemming from his arrest during the raid last year.
Prosecutors later sought the removal of Mack’s original lawyers after they contend assistant federal public defender Carolyn Kucharski became involved in Mack’s efforts to influence the testimony of one of the victims.
Although Kucharski denied wrongdoing, she and fellow assistant federal public defender Edward Bryan were removed from the case at the request of their boss, federal public defender Dennis Terez.