Sex sting nets 2 from county

Coaching assistant among those charged

YOUNGSTOWN — A Salem man who teaches at an elementary school and was last month hired as an assistant varsity football coach in Leetonia was one of the dozen people arrested in an undercover sex sting this week following a three-day investigation.

According to reports from the Journal’s new partner, WKBN 27 First News, James Norkus, 24, of Salem, was charged with importuning, unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, and possession of criminal tools.

Norkus was awarded a supplemental contract by the Leetonia Board of Education in late July for the assistant coaching position, and he was also working as a physical education teacher at Kirkmere Elementary School in Youngstown.

WKBN reported that Norkus has been suspended without pay from both Leetonia and Youngstown City Schools as a result of the investigation led by the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force, a part of the Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission.

The Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio Highway Patrol, and other agencies also took part in the investigation.

“It is reprehensible that anyone would arrange to meet with a juvenile for sex, but it is even more appalling when the person facing charges is an elementary school teacher,” DeWine said in a press release announcing the charges. “Protecting children is one of my highest priorities, and we will continue to do all we can to stop offenders from harming Ohio’s kids.”

The release stated that all suspects are accused of having sexually explicit online conversations with undercover officers posing as juveniles and allegedly traveled to a vacant home in Mahoning County with the intent to engage in a sexual encounter with a minor.

“These types of internet crimes are something that my office takes seriously and personally,” Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene said in the release. “As we have stated before, we are going to continue to pursue and arrest these types of predators who are looking to exploit our children.”

Another Columbiana County man, Thomas Maylone Jr., 29, of East Liverpool, was also arrested on the same charges as a result of the investigation.

Others arrested were:

— Naji Alsagoor, 25, Boardman.

— Robert Canaan Jr., 50, Niles.

— Justin Coyne, 21, Cleveland.

— Adam Dziedzic, 38, New Castle, Pa.

— Brandon Gorcheff, 26, North Lima.

— Kevin McNally, 23, Boardman.

— Alexander Morlan, 21, New Middletown.

— Andrew Nuzzi, 22, Girard.

— Peter Petroff Jr., 47, Boardman.

— Edward Webker, 41, Andover.

Webker and Nuzzi are also charged with disseminating matter harmful to juveniles for allegedly sending sexually explicit photographs during online chats with undercover officers, the release stated.