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8 charged in undercover sex sting

WARREN — Eight men face charges in Warren Municipal Court in connection to an undercover police sting in the city that targeted sex trafficking.

The men, including one who is accused of trying to recruit an undercover officer into the sex trade, were arrested Wednesday after responding to an ad placed online by law enforcement.

They are accused of exchanging messages with an officer and arrived at a location in Warren expecting to have sex with an adult woman for money, according to a news release from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

Those who are charged and pleaded not guilty Thursday are:

l Lamont Davis, 20, of Warren, to felony charges of promoting prostitution and possession of criminal tools. He is accused of trying to recruit an undercover officer into the sex trade.

l Joseph Tennant, 44, of Youngstown, to charges of promoting prostitution, possession of criminal tools and solicitation. The release states he tried to buy sex for himself and for a friend.

Davis and Tennant are in the Trumbull County Jail; Davis on $3,500 bond and Tennant on $2,500 bond, court records show.

l Five other men pleaded not guilty to charges of solicitation and possession of criminal tools. They are Dain Bancroft, 55, of Mineral Ridge; Patrick Cassidy, 54, of Hubbard; Philip Salus, 50, Salineville; Donald Lingenfelter, 48, Sharon, Pa.; and Bryan Calai, 35, Warren.

Also, Jay Barbe, 55, of West Farmington, pleaded not guilty to a charge of solicitation.

The six men are free on $2,500 bond and are due back in court on June 1, according to the court’s online docket.

Said Warren police Chief Eric Merkel, the department “will continue its online presence to investigate those who come into the city and contemplate similar bad acts as those arrested in this recent sting.”

The sting was done by Warren police and the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force, which is part of the attorney general’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission.

rselak@tribtoday.com

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