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4 Western Pennsylvania men accused of sex solicitation in Ohio

Patrick Varine
| Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, 6:51 p.m.

A 61-year-old Verona man was among nine people arrested during a sting operation targeting sex trafficking, according to the Ohio Attorney General's Office.

Authorities say they all responded to online advertisements placed by law enforcement, and all nine were taken into custody after arriving at an agreed-upon location in Beaver Township, Mahoning County, Ohio.

“The demand for the sex trade is a major driving force behind human trafficking, and that is why undercover operations like this are so important,” Ohio state Attorney General Mike DeWine wrote in a press release. “We want would-be purchasers of sex to remember that they could be arranging to meet with law enforcement.”

Joseph Geraci, 61, of Verona was charged with solicitation, DeWine said.

Others from Western Pennsylvania who were arrested were: Ryan Grossman, 42, of Aliquippa; Gary Harmon, 46, of New Castle; and Charles Hart, 63, of Cochranton, Crawford County.

Four Ohio residents face the same charge: Sohail Awan, 31, of Youngstown; Michael Canaday, 53, of East Palestine; Christopher Jones, 42, of Berlin Center and Paul McHugh, 32, of Salem.

Jamie Webb, 31, of Salem, Ohio was charged with attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, possession of criminal tools and importuning.

DeWine's office said Webb allegedly exchanged messages with an undercover officer arranging for what he believed would be a sexual encounter with a 15-year-old girl.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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