City council president, 5 others arrested in Lake County human trafficking sting

Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 3:28 PM EST
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PAINESVILLE, Ohio (WOIO) -The Northeast Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, alongside the Wickliffe Police Department and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, arrested six men for attempting to buy sex.

Among these men was the president of the Eastlake City Council, 57-year-old John Meyers, according to an announcement from Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

19 News contacted Eastlake Mayor Dennis Morely, who said he had no comment.

But, a fellow council member of Meyer’s, Eastlake Ward 3 Councilman Jason Kasunick tells 19 News he was shocked by the arrest, “Very much so, it’s not something I would have expected him to be wrapped up in. So, yeah, I was very surprised.”

Attorney General Yost says the message is clear, “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! Special thanks for Sheriff Leonbruno, whose office recently joined this task force and has hit the ground running.”

The five others arrested were:

  • Ronald Bevier, Columbia Station, 30
  • Alvin Bridges, Euclid, 47
  • Andrew Champa, Wickliffe, 40
  • Garrett Kellogg, Strongsville, 20
  • Salvatore Longo, Beachwood, 44

All six men were charged with solicitation, and Bridges also faces a felony charge of drug possession, according to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

Meyer’s plead not guilty during his initial appearance in Willoughby Municipal Court, and he’s currently free on a $5,000 bond.

“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,” said Chief Deputy Robert Izzo of the Lake County Sheriff’s Office. “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.”

Four potential victims of human trafficking were also identified and offered social services.

Eastlake Councilman Kasunick tells 19 News, that city council will meet for the first time since Meyer’s arrest on Tuesday. It’s expected a conversation will focus on if any action can be taken by council at this point, “Tuesday will be our next council meeting and I don’t think Mr. Meyer is going to be present is what I’m understanding. I don’t know what his plans are or how council should proceed at this point. I’m sure we will have to discuss it with our law director and see what our options are -- and what we should do.”

The Northeast Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force is one of six law enforcement collaboratives formed under AG Yost’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission directed at combating human trafficking.

The Northeast Ohio Human Trafficking 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.