September 19, 2014

Elyria
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Three Elyria stores charged with conspiracy, drug trafficking

 

CT photo by Bruce Bishop.

Shopway Food Mart on Lake Avenue was raided in April 2013. The store was one of three businesses indicted on drug trafficking and conspiracy charges. CHRONICLE FILE PHOTO

ELYRIA — Three Elyria stores have been indicted on conspiracy, drug trafficking and other charges.

Two of the stores, Cakes, Candy and Flowers and the now-closed Shopway Food Mart, were searched during an April 2013 raid that also focused on allegations the two stores were engaged in food stamp fraud.

Cakes, Candy and Flowers, which is run by Kitty Meszes, the daughter of former Lorain County Commissioner Mary Jo Vasi, is charged with trafficking in drugs, theft and two counts of conspiracy. Meszes, who could not be reached for comment Monday, has not been personally charged with a crime and has previously denied involvement with food stamp fraud.

Shopway is charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, offenses involving counterfeit controlled substances, theft, two counts of conspiracy and three counts of trafficking in drugs.

Those are the same charges already being faced by Thaer Mustafa, who ran both Shopway and IMT Wireless and More, the third company named in the indictments. IMT is charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and two counts each of conspiracy and gambling.

Elyria police Capt. Chris Costantino said the charges against the companies are a direct result of a joint investigation between local police and state investigators.

According to court documents filed last year as part of the city’s nuisance lawsuit against Shopway, an informant went to Shopway last year and told Mustafa that he or she wanted to use a food stamp card, also known as an EBT card, with a balance of $350 to purchase drugs and a cell phone.

Mustafa then sent the informant to Cakes, Candy and Flowers to run the card and place it in an account at that store before returning to Shopway, according to court documents

When the informant went to the cake shop, Meszes allegedly swiped the card for $200 and gave the informant a receipt. According to court documents, the informant then returned to Shopway and was given a cell phone and told to come back the next day to pick up spice, an outlawed form of synthetic marijuana.

The informant, who was wearing a wire, reportedly later returned to Shopway and Cakes, Candy and Flowers, where an employee refused to use the EBT card to complete a transaction. The dispute drew Meszes from a back room and she swiped the card for $145, according to court documents.

The informant then used the receipt at Shopway to obtain synthetic marijuana and cash, according to the court filings. During the 2013 raid, Mustafa and another Shopway worker were arrested, but no one from Cakes, Candy and Flowers was charged.

The conspiracy between Shopway and Cakes, Candy and Flowers allegedly took place between 2012 and 2013, according to the indictments.

Only a few months after the Shopway raid, Mustafa opened IMT Wireless in downtown Elyria, but police allege that he continued his criminal enterprise there.

Costantino said that police raided the cell phone store in December after receiving complaints about gambling and counterfeit clothing being sold there. Police also found items associated with drugs and drug trafficking inside the store during the December search.

Michael Stepanik, Mustafa’s attorney, said he was surprised to learn his client’s companies had been indicted given that Mustafa is already facing charges. He also questioned why it took more than a year after the Shopway raid, which was sparked by alleged crimes reportedly caught on video, to bring charges against the store.

“I’m just wondering what the purpose of this is,” Stepanik said.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.


  • golfingirl

    “Michael Stepanik, Mustafa’s attorney, said he was surprised to learn his client’s companies had been indicted given that Mustafa is already facing charges.”

    Maybe because your client is a thief and a scumbag!

  • golfingirl

    “I’m just wondering what the purpose of this is,” Stepanik said. (Mustafa’s attorney)

    The purpose is to get your creep of a client off the streets.

    And spare me the “innocent until proven guilty” comments from the usual crowd.

    The informant was wearing a wire and it was all recorded! They are guilty!

  • saltydog77

    Meszes, daughter of former Lorain County Commissioner Mary Jo Vasi. Definitely makes a person wonder about the family.

    • Starryeyes63

      No need to wonder I grew up with the Vasi kids most are bad news.

      • saltydog77

        I had always believed that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I’m curious about the multi-million $ transportation center in downtown Elyria that Vasi spearheaded as her “pet project”. The one that sits idle and just had to be built.

        • Bill Love

          I could tell you some stories about that project she’s a joke

    • Razorback Twou

      Aren’t these the same people who were involved with that tire mess on Oberlin Rd. a while back? How did that ever work out for the city?

      • saltydog77

        Is there a pattern of wrong doing here.Maybe the county prosecutor could look for a pattern of corruption, punishable under the RICO act.

  • Sis Delish

    These Perps should be teaching a course on Accounting at L.C.C.C. They seem to know expertly how to move money around various profit centers.

  • saltydog77

    Organized crime syndicates around the country would like to interview these folks for possible employment with them.

    • Joe Smith

      Like the IRS?

  • Chan

    I know the commentators on here always like to point the finger at the suspect selling drugs and scamming the system but lets not forget that in order to be a drug dealer there has to be a druggie. If citizens were making purchases with their foodstamp card that were restricted items, where are the receipts that contain card numbers so they too can be held accountable. I’m not knocking his hustle at all, I shake my head at the morons who actually abuse the system which was designed to help them.

    • stillsleepyeyes

      That’s why there should be drug testing for these card holders……………….

      • Razorback Twou

        And how about the congress men busted for cocaine?

        • stillsleepyeyes

          yep those too…………..

      • Triston Henderson

        And who exactly would pay for these drug tests? The taxpayers?

        • Bob

          I know, it is a double edged sword. But it needs to be done.

          • tickmeoff

            Freedom means the right to make mistakes, and then be held liable. What you are proposing is a police state.

            There is no need to go that far, but if you want to live like that, Emigrate to China. We are becoming less and less free, the government more and more intrusive. The present laws on the book will take care of this mess.

          • Bob

            Nah. If anything I would move to Canada. Less crime there and they have universal health care. Which I am not sure if China does.

        • stillsleepyeyes

          The same tax payers that are paying for al this that is happening now……………

        • Mark B

          Might as well , we are soon to be testing all school students .

        • Joe Smith

          Yes, It does not cost that much and I would bet a good portion would be kicked off and we would save money in the end.
          If I have to drug test to make money to hand them in my taxes, they should have to drug test to receive it.

        • Bigdogg440

          it’ll be cheaper to pay for one drugtest than years and years of benefits

      • golfingirl

        Should be drug testing…..but also severe penalties if testing positive.

        I can hear it now, “yes he tested positive, but to take away his food will only harm his family.”

        Testing without consequences would be a waste of money. Take away their government handouts, then it will probably pay for itself.

        • Mark B

          Not only test for drugs , but also alcohol and tobacco , and not a urine test , take hair samples or Blood.

          • Jennifer H

            Tobacco and alcohol are not illegal. Testing for them would be discrimination.

          • tickmeoff

            Move to China, the hell with people running their own lives. Drug testing hasn’t improved our lives. Though it has given you a false sense of security. I could give a rat’s butt about some welfare recipient smoking a joint. Controlling others is not the Panacea you make it out to be. Drug testing the people who make our hamburgers or empty our garbage is a total waste of money. We have had drug testing since 1988 for common folk, before that for highly sensitive jobs concerning money or information. Drug testing appeals to people who want a simple solution, just as Three strikes and locking people up forever is a good thing. C.E.O.”s don’t take drug tests, just the workers.
            I simply don’t buy this line of thinking, in that this is 2014, and I was around when they had the annual review. That’s when the boss is armed with every mistake you made in the past year. How many times late,How many days sick, and perhaps any write ups or compliments on your work.
            The number one drug of choice is alcohol, and for most of us working folk, we wait till the weekend.
            This fascination with control is a placebo, not a cure to the human condition.

        • Bigdogg440

          after a failed drug test they shouldnt be allowed to re-apply for a year.

          • tickmeoff

            If you can’t handle freedom, simply leave. With freedom comes responsibility. What I do off the clock is none of your darn business. Keep your nose where it belongs, on your own business. You might find how your life will improve immensely, you have no control over others, You and you alone are the biggest influence in your life.

          • Bigdogg440

            Then get a damn job and support your own kids instead of all us tax payers supporting them . I don’t get any Father’s Day cards from your damn kids

          • tickmeoff

            I have worked my entire life. You are way off!

          • Bigdogg440

            I don’t care what u do in your spare time , you can sit at home and jack off to a picture of your mother for all I care! But if you can’t handle your business and take care of your family then us taxpayers shouldn’t be paying for your low life a** to get high . MAN UP AND GET A JOB U BUM

        • tickmeoff

          Move to China. You will find what you want!

      • Bill Love

        I agree I had to take a drug test for my job why don’t they gotta take a drug test for food stamps

        • tickmeoff

          Why don’t defense contractor C.E.O.’s take drug tests?

          • Bill Love

            They are not getting the taxpayers money threw hand out like welfare people are u cant afford food but u can afford drugs what a joke

    • Sis Delish

      If they be smart enough to beat the system, they be smart enough to work, Period.

      • saltydog77

        Definitely creative thinkers out there. Just not motivated to work for their pay as you and I would.

    • golfingirl

      They are both equally at fault.

      This was not just about drugs, but cell phones, counterfeit clothing etc.

  • saltydog77

    Users and dealers definitely go hand in hand. No doubt there are receipts, digital in nature that will probably be put into evidence.There will probably always be people who are willing to bite the hand that feeds them.

  • Phil Blank

    There may be some importand info missing here?

    Joshua Meszes Candidate for County Commissioner 
    Democrat 

    “I am currently the manager of a family owned and operated bakery in a Elyria called Cakes, Candy, and Flowers.”

    • saltydog77

      Please remind us around election time.This information should be heard by every voter.

      • golfingirl

        But with a “D” after his name, does it really matter to Elyria/Lorain voters?

    • golfingirl

      Good pick-up!

      One and the same.

      He is running on a Green Energy platform.

      That will bring a lot of jobs to the county!

      A county built on industrial manufacturing, being told they now have to use windmills to power their plants.

      Or maybe, his “Green Energy” is made of paper he can put in his wallet.

      Where do they find these people?

      • Mark B

        Green energy is only produced by burning Money

      • Josh M

        Well, I hate to disappoint the Bing user in the group. I haven’t been employed there since early 2008. I haven’t sought a seat for 4 years and I don’t ever plan to again. I no longer live in Lorain County and I don’t plan on moving back. Thanks for the guilt by association bit, though. Kitty will have her day in court and the court will do it’s job. Simple as that.

        You’re talking about a county that was also decimated by the removal of said industry. A county that is currently hoping to land a chicken or pig slaughtering operation definitely has room to mock emerging technologies. You’re right “Where do they find these people?”

        I appreciate the name drop, this wonderful article and all the comment free speech. I wish you all the best.

        Don’t worry Brad hit his mandated Mary Jo reference.

        I think I covered most everything. Oh wait, where do I get my pitch fork to join the angry mob?

        • golfingirl

          My apologies. I remember now, it was 2010 and you finished last in that race.

          The anger from the “mob” is because we are sick and tired of these types of activities in our neighborhoods, with the criminals being allowed to continue to roam these streets and repeat their offenses.

          Sorry that one of them happened to belong to your family.

          Oh, and by the way……pitchforks are available at any Home Depot, or Lowes.

          As for emerging technologies, I can think of a couple examples …..Solyndra and Fisker…..over $90B in taxpayer dollars wasted through an economic stimulus plan, which created virtually no jobs.

          It is sad when a “pig slaughtering” operation will produce more economic benefit to a community than science. But when the science is not practical, this is the result.

          • Josh M

            Last is right. I became so disinterested after encountering the same absurd political mentality, I let it die. It’s why I try to avoid politics at all costs.

            I don’t fault you for being angry. It is pretty sad the number of meth and heroine busts continue to increase daily. Drug use leads to petty crime which leads to prison overcrowding which leads to reduced sentences and then you just rinse and repeat.

            Wonderful, I’m more of an Ace Hardware guy myself.

            I still don’t know the full details of all this besides what has been printed.

            Fisker was doomed from their design. Those cars were atrocious. That whole “bailout” initiative was the biggest misuse use of funds outside of starting some unnecessary conflicts on the other side of the world.

            At least we agree that we have reached a sad state of affairs on a few fronts. Its disheartening to hear the pig slaughtering is still on the fence(last I read). That area needs something.

            Thanks for golfingirl for keeping it on the up and up. I hope the day has been and continues to be kind to you.

          • golfingirl

            You too…I did not mean any harm….have a great July 4.

          • Mark B

            There is no real Scientists now days like Einstein or Tesla , just politico scientist that cook the books and adjust their models to fit their agenda

        • Razorback Twou

          Go smoke a tire. And don’t come back.

    • SniperFire

      ‘Joshua Meszes Candidate for County Commissioner Democrat ‘

      What are the odds that Brad Dicken would have pointed out this was a Republican candidate should it have been? LOL

      Journalism is dead.

  • saltydog77

    To those concerned who have held political office, is this the legacy you wish to leave to the good hard working people of Lorain County?

  • Bob

    So were are all the Clowns that were defending these people when this story first broke last year???

    I think it is funny how the bakery owner is denying being a part all of this and they have her on the recording from the wire the informant was wearing.

  • Greg White

    Dont do the crime if you cant do the time!

  • Arietta Sullivan

    so yet..they all were still running their businesses since these serious crimes were committed&did you not think that,at least,one business didn’t learn their lesson nor did the city,when the store moved on e. broad&chanced it again.

  • ken

    I still know Mustafa is a great guy cause i know him! I don’t care what anyone else has to say to make yourself feel better I know the man. I don’t care about your stupid comments!