An Elyria pimp who forced drug-addicted women to work as prostitutes was sentenced Thursday to life in prison.
Jeremy Mack, 38, fought the charges against him during a federal court trial earlier this year, but was found guilty of sex trafficking, drug distribution, conspiracy and witness tampering in the case.
According to Elyria police and the FBI, which conducted the investigation, Mack used fear and violence to control several young women, including a 16-year-old girl.
The investigation determined that Mack would provide access to drugs to the women and when they couldn’t pay their debts, he would force them to engage in sex for money.
Ashley Onysko, Mack’s co-defendant, was sentenced Wednesday to 2½ years in prison for her role in the scheme. She admitted to posting advertisements for the women online at Mack’s behest and also managed the books of the operation.
Her lawyer, Roger Synenberg, wrote in court documents before Onysko was sentenced that she fell into the same trap as the other women, but ended up helping him run the prostitution and drug ring.
Both Onysko and Mack now are classified as sex offenders.
The 16-year-old girl, who now is an adult, said during an interview with The Chronicle-Telegram on Thursday that she first met Mack through his son, Toby Lewis, and began spending time at the rented Tattersall Court house where Mack ran his operation.
She said that at first she was there to give people tattoos and also did drugs with Mack. She said she didn’t realize what she was getting into because of her youth.
“I had no idea he was such a terrible person,” she said.
The victim said that although she had offered to pay Mack for the drugs, he always declined until one night when he began yelling at her and had a photo of her posted online advertising her services.
Before she escaped a few days later through the help of a friend and her parents, the girl said she was forced to have sexual relations with 10 or 11 people. She said it was obvious she wasn’t 18, but she thinks that made her more attractive to potential customers.
“I think they knew,” she said. “It’s sad that they knew and didn’t care.”
The victim said that since getting away from Mack, who was arrested during an April 2013 raid by Elyria police, she has taken steps to clean up her life. She said she has been sober for roughly 10 months and now works a full-time job.
Mack has previously denied forcing women into sex slavery.
“Now, I many not be innocent of all things, but those girls were no victims of mine!” he wrote in one document he sent The Chronicle-Telegram before his trial. “The many witnesses who were associated with myself and my girls, including the alleged victims themselves, know quite well who has victimized those girls. The same ones pressuring them to sell their souls by insisting they get up there on that witness stand and lie against a man who was nothing but good to them.”
But prosecutors and law enforcement said Mack forced women into a dark world of drugs and sex work.
“Jeremy Mack preyed upon vulnerable women and held them in conditions akin to modern-day slavery,” U.S. Attorney for Northern Ohio Steven Dettelbach said in a news release. “His conduct is offensive to everything this community and this country stand for, but his victims persevered, survived and exposed his twisted world of sex, violence and drug trafficking. Jeremy Mack earned every day of this sentence.”
Lewis was sentenced to 3½ years in state prison on drug and weapons charges covering multiple incidents, including his arrest during the 2013 raid.