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Portsmouth attorney indicted: Mearan could face 70 years in prison

PORTSMOUTH — A Portsmouth attorney was indicted last week on 18 felony charges related to human trafficking and prostitution with some of the charges going back to 2005.

On Friday, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Scioto County Prosecutor Shane Tieman announced the indictment of Portsmouth attorney Michael Mearan and the charges include one count of first-degree felony of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity; three counts of first-degree felony of trafficking in persons; five counts of first-degree felony compelling prostitution; and nine counts of promoting prostitution.

Mearan, 74, faces more than 70 years in prison if convicted on all the felony charges.

He was booked into the Scioto County on Friday by the Portsmouth Police Department on the indictment.

He was arraigned Monday afternoon in the Scioto County Common Pleas Court and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The case has been assigned to Patricia A. Crosgrove, a former Summit County Common Pleas judge who retired in 2011 and is assigned to cases by the Ohio Supreme Court as a special judge.

Mearan’s cash surety bond was set at $300,000.

He was in still in the Scioto County Jail on Monday afternoon.

The case is being prosecuted as part of AG Yost’s Human Trafficking Initiative and Special Prosecutions Section.

Indictments merely contain allegations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless proved guilty in a court of law.

The case was investigated by a human trafficking task force as part of AG Yost’s Organized Crime Investigations Commission. The task force consisted of representatives from the Portsmouth Police Department, Department of Public Safety’s Intelligence Unit and Ohio Investigative Unit, and the Attorney General’s Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

In March, Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) executed a search warrant at Mearan’s Sixth Street office, next to the Scioto County Courthouse in downtown Portsmouth. The media reported Yost was at the scene and at the time, BCI did not give a reason for the raid.

In late 2018, the Cincinnati Enquirer investigated long-time rumors of Mearan being involved in the trafficking of women for sexual purposes and talked to women who claimed they were prostituted to officials in return for a number of things including money and reduced sentences in criminal cases.

After The Enquirer’s story was published, BCI began investigating the case and reflects what was initially outlined in a sealed federal wiretap affidavit issued as part of a separate Drug Enforcement Administration investigation several years ago. That document, obtained by The Enquirer in early 2018, includes accounts of Mearan sending women to Florida and other states to have sex for money. That investigation resulted in eight drug convictions, but Mearan was never charged. The DEA said it had handed any notes on Mearan over to the FBI, and it is not clear what happened to any follow-ups from authorities.