As Ronald Hellman sat in court Monday afternoon waiting to stand in front of the judge, police say his four counts of ‘compelling prostitution’ are just the tip of a very large iceberg.
“This investigation has taken off. More than I ever would have imagined,” said Major Jeff Allen of the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office.
Hellman was picked up Friday by U.S. Marshals at his house on Youngstown’s south side.
Authorities say when he learned of the arrest of 77-year-old Charles Krusac on prostitution and child porn charges two weeks prior, he panicked.
“We believe he was going to be moving quite far away, and having him here was important to us,” Allen said.
Investigators say Hellman supplied girls of all ages to Krusac as part of an organized human trafficking ring preying on drug addicts and prostitutes.
“He was physically transporting the girls out to Krusac’s residence. He was obtaining money every time he delivered a girl to Krusac’s residence,” said attorney Jennifer McLaughlin.
“At this point in time, we are at a minimum of 80 females that were being exploited. Both juveniles and young adults,” Allen said.
I’m told authorities know of at least one underaged victim, but they are still trying to reach out to women who were also victimized by Hellman, Krusac or others in this alleged ring but have been reluctant to come forward.
“They’ve gotten into this life because people have made them dependent on drugs. They’re physically abused and they’re afraid… and so they will do what these men tell them to do,” McLaughlin said.
Hellman is jailed on a $100,000 bond.
Victims or anyone with tips can call the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force at (330) 480-4940. Callers can leave a first name and a return number and someone from the task force will return the call.