(YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene today announced that a three-day undercover operation aimed at preventing child sexual exploitation and reducing demand for sex trafficking has led to the arrests of 12 men, including a local elementary school teacher.
The suspects were arrested this week as part of an investigation led by the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force, which is part of Ohio Attorney General DeWine’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission.
James Norkus, 24, of Salem, a physical education teacher at Kirkmere Elementary School in Youngstown, is among the 12 suspects now facing charges. He was arrested on charges of importuning, attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, and possession of criminal tools.
“It is reprehensible that anyone would arrange to meet with a juvenile for sex, but it is even more appalling when the person facing charges is an elementary school teacher,” said Attorney General DeWine. “Protecting children is one of my highest priorities, and we will continue to do all we can to stop offenders from harming Ohio’s kids.”
“These types of internet crimes are something that my office takes seriously and personally,” said Sheriff Greene. “As we have stated before, we are going to continue to pursue and arrest these types of predators who are looking to exploit our children.”
The suspects are all accused of having sexually explicit online conversations with undercover officers posing as juveniles. The suspects all allegedly traveled to a vacant home in Mahoning County with the intent to engage in a sexual encounter with a minor.
In addition to Norkus, the following suspects were also each arrested on charges of importuning, attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, and possession of criminal tools:
- Naji Alsagoor, 25, Boardman
- Robert Canann Jr., 50, Niles
- Justin Coyne, 21, Cleveland
- Adam Dziedzic, 38, New Castle, Pennsylvania
- Brandon Gorcheff, 26, North Lima
- Thomas Maylone Jr., 29, East Liverpool
- Kevin McNally, 23, Boardman
- Alexander Morlan, 21, New Middletown
- Andrew Nuzzi, 22, Girard
- Peter Petroff Jr., 47, Boardman
- Edward Webker, 41, Andover
Webker and Nuzzi are also charged with disseminating matter harmful to juveniles for allegedly sending sexually explicit photographs during their online chats with the undercover officers.
The Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force is led by the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office and includes representatives from the Austintown Police Department, Howland Township Police Department, Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office, Ohio Adult Parole Authority, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Ohio Investigative Unit, Ohio State Highway Patrol, and the Warren Police Department.
The Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force also played a large role in conducting the investigation.