Human trafficking suspects free

GIRARD — Eight men rounded up last week as part of a human trafficking sting are out on bond after appearing for arraignment Tuesday in Girard Municipal Court.

Seven of the suspects, four of whom are residents of Trumbull County, are facing misdemeanor charges of soliciting and possession of criminal tools. They each entered a plea of not guilty before Judge Jeffrey D. Adler, who set a pretrial hearing for June 12.

Those arrested on charges of possession of criminal tools and solicitation included Thomas Biroschak Jr., 29, Canfield; Patrick Cassidy, 52, Hubbard; Joseph Smith, 39, Niles; Brian Stewart, 37, Kinsman; Francis Cerech, 25, Campbell; Terrance Flanigan, 51, Niles; and Louis Stirk, 47, Youngstown.

Brian Evans III, 47, of Youngstown, was arrested on felony charges of drug possession as well as charges of possession of criminal tools and solicitation. He entered a not guilty plea and had his pretrial set for April 10.

The arrests took place Thursday in Liberty as part of an investigation by the Liberty Township Police Department and Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force, which is part of Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s Organized Crime Investigations Commission.