- Associated Press - Thursday, June 12, 2014

CLEVELAND (AP) - A Northeast Ohio man accused of prostituting four women and helping to keep them addicted to drugs was sentenced Thursday to life in prison.

A federal jury convicted Jeremy Mack, 38, of Elyria, in February on charges that included conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, sex trafficking of a minor, drug trafficking and witness tampering.

Mack previously served nine years on drug trafficking convictions before being released from federal prison in 2012.

FBI and Elyria police investigators say that in late 2012 and for just over three months in 2013, Mack and an Avon Lake woman forced the women, including a 16-year-old, to work as prostitutes in exchange for drug money they owed Mack. The women were also forced to live in his house, authorities say.

One of the women told investigators she was afraid to leave Mack’s house because he knew where her family lived.

U.S. Attorney for Northern Ohio Steven Dettelbach told The Associated Press on Thursday that Mack’s conduct was outrageous.

“He richly deserves to spend the rest of his life behind bars so he can’t hurt any more people,” Dettelbach said.

Dettelbach praised Mack’s victims for having the courage to testify against him.

Mack’s attorney, Lawrence Whitney, declined to comment on the sentence but said, “There’s a lot of complex issues in the trial that will be aired out in the court of appeals.”

According to an FBI affidavit, one of the women began buying heroin from Mack in early 2013. When she ran out of money, Mack offered to exchange drugs for sex. He then began “fronting” her drugs, the affidavit said, to the point where the debt grew so large that he forced her to live in his home and work as a prostitute.

Another victim met Mack through Mack’s 18-year-old son, the FBI affidavit said. Mack gave the 16-year-old girl cocaine and had sex with her even though he knew she was underage, the affidavit said. She told investigators she eventually worked as a prostitute for Mack because he was “a guy with a gun who knew where I lived,” the affidavit said.

Authorities say Mack used Ashley Onysko, 24, to arrange meetings between the women and sex clients. Onysko posted online ads for escort services on Craigslist and a website called Backpage.com, the affidavit said. Onysko received 30 percent of whatever the sex clients paid, authorities say.

Onysko was sentenced Wednesday to 30 months in prison. Her attorney, Roger Synenberg, said Thursday that Mack was a predator who victimized vulnerable women, including his client.

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