Longtime Ohio attorney accused of human trafficking has died


PORTSMOUTH, Ohio (AP) — A veteran attorney from southern Ohio who was charged last year with human trafficking involving six women — most, former clients — has died, according to published reports.

Michael Mearan had been taken to a hospital on Wednesday and died there Friday from undisclosed “health complications,” according to his attorney, Michael Siewert. A cause of death has not yet been determined for Mearan, 75, who suffered from diabetes and congestive heart disease, officials have said.

Mearan had denied the accusations against him, saying in a court filing that the allegations were based on testimony from “numerous felons” who received favorable treatment for cooperating with investigators. He was charged in October 2020 with promoting prostitution, compelling prostitution, human trafficking and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, and had faced more than 70 years in prison if convicted on all counts.

Mearan pleaded not guilty to all charges in October and was freed after posting bail.

The Ohio Supreme Court had suspended his law license in February after he state attorney’s disciplinary board sought the move, saying Mearan was a danger and that “immediate action is necessary to stop this predatory threat.”

The alleged sex trafficking was based in Portsmouth, a city about 100 miles (160 kilometers) east of Cincinnati, along the Ohio River, where Mearan operated a law firm and had served on city council.

Authorities said in court documents that he targeted women who were poor, addicted to drugs and facing criminal charges to take part in a prostitution ring during a 15-year-period beginning in 2003.

The Associated Press

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