Arrests

Sheriff’s Office comments on reports of area businessman being arrested for human trafficking

Nikki Blankenship
Scioto County Candor

Reports that Portsmouth Insurance Agent Fred Brisker has been arrested have circulated across social media, leaving a community to wonder if an FBI investigation into human trafficking may be bringing justice to Scioto County.
The Scioto County Candor first broke news of the investigation on Dec. 14, and further released pages of a sealed affidavit outlining elements of the investigation.
According to the affidavit, several local individuals, including Brisker, have been named in a federal investigation into human trafficking, drug trafficking and public corruption that reaches all the way to the state level.
The investigation links the alleged criminal organization to some of Scioto County’s missing women including Megan Lancaster, who went missing in 2013, and Jennifer Shepherd, whose body was found in Pine Creek in Wheelersburg during the same year.
The affidavit was filed by the FBI with U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division in Columbus on Aug. 19, 2015.
According to the document, targets of the investigation include Brisker, Portsmouth attorney and former City Councilman Michael Mearan; Ashland, Kentucky car dealer Daren Biggs; convicted narcotics trafficker, Mark Eubanks, of Columbus; Timothy Wayne Mutter, of Franklin Furnace; Richard Glenn, of Portsmouth; Patricia Tsotsos, of Portsmouth; Trent Banks, of Columbus; Kenyatta “Yatta” Connally, of Portsmouth; Dan Schoenberger, of Columbus; Donald Smith, of Columbus; Brett Fluharty, of Milton, West Virginia; and Lindsay Porter, of Portsmouth.
There were additional targets of investigation that remained unnamed in the affidavit. The list included an unnamed Scioto County Common Pleas judge, an unnamed state judge, various unnamed members of law enforcement, unnamed staff at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) and various levels of unnamed public officials.
The affidavit states that according to gathered evidence, “Mearan is an attorney and former City Councilman in Portsmouth, Ohio who recruits females to engage in prostitution in southern Ohio and occasionally other US locations.”
According to the investigation, Mearan allegedly conspired with public officials who pull legal strings in favor of females employed by Mearan.
“Mearan has been reported as offering his legal services, clothing, residence, food etc., to females in return for them becoming prostitutes for him and conducting sexual acts for his clients including a Portsmouth, Ohio judge, Southern Ohio Correctional Facility Staff members,and local businessmen,” the affidavit states. “This information was obtained through numerous interviews, including interviews with former prostitutes. Mearan has also been reported as being involved in purchasing drugs, including Oxycodone and heroin, from Eubanks and others, in order to provide them to his prostitutes and clients. Mearan has also been suspected as being in collusion with a Portsmouth, Ohio judge to get females out on bail, parole, etc., in order to use those females as prostitutes and with unknown law enforcement or legislative officials to tip off Mearan’s drug suppliers including Eubanks.”
The document indicates that the local attorney’s involvement in prostitution can be traced back to the 1990s. According to the evidence presented, Mearan transported prostitutes across the country to meet with clients. These trips are allegedly set up by Mearan and Brisker.
“The females travel specifically to meet clients that were arranged by Mearan and Brisker. The trips would usually last between two days and one week. The scope of this investigation includes subjects who are conspiring with Mearan to facilitate the activities of the Criminal Enterprise in Ohio, Kentucky, New Jersey, Michigan, Florida and New York,” Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Special Agent Keith P. Leighton, who prepared the affidavit, reported.
The affidavit further details the suspected criminal organization, transporting females to various locations across the nation for the purpose of prostitution. It also ties the criminal organization to the operation of pill mills, trafficking of heroin and the suspected selling of young girls online.
In 2016, the investigation also led to the convictions several drug traffickers including Mutter, Glenn, Eubanks, Smith and Banks. All were convicted of conspiracy to distribute narcotics. There has been no confirmation of any arrests relating to human trafficking.
However, an unnamed individual close to the Brisker Family has stated that reports of Brisker’s arrest are true. An individual close to the investigation, who has also asked that his/her identity remain confidential, has further stated that Brisker is in custody related to charges of human trafficking.
According to the affidavit, the FBI Portsmouth Office, Southern Ohio Drug Task Force (SODTF), Portsmouth Police Department (PPD) and the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) have assisted in the investigation. PPD has been asked for knowledge of Brisker’s arrest. As of the time of publication, the PPD has not responded.
When the SCSO was asked for confirmation of Brisker’s arrest, Chief Deputy Todd Miller only stated, “Fred Brisker was not booked into our jail this weekend.”
Attempts have been made to reach Brisker for comment. Those have also been unsuccessful.
More information on the investigation will be published as it becomes available.

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