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www.wmfd.com - Four Ashland residents have been indicted by a grand jury in a forced labor case. }}" />

   
 
 
Four Ashland residents indicted for labor trafficking

Story By: Brigitte Coles

 

 

 
 
 
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  Original Published: 7/17/2013

 Four Ashland residents have been indicted by a grand jury in a forced labor case.Jordie L. Callahan, 26, Jessica L. Hunt, 31 and Dezerah L. Silsby, 21, were indicted on four counts each including forced labor and theft of government benefits according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office. The three are accused of holding Shannon Eckley, 30 and her 5-year-old daughter against their will at their residence at 509 West Main Street in Ashland. A fourth suspect, Daniel K. Brown, 33, was charged with one count of conspiracy in a criminal information. According to the indictment the four used a combination of violence, threats, sexual assaults, humiliation and monitoring to establish a pattern of domination and control over Eckley and her daughter. “These charges paint a picture of the unspeakable cruelty these defendants inflicted upon this mother and her child,” said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. “It provides another stark reminder that human trafficking takes place all around us, and that we need to be better neighbors to one another.” “These defendants are being held accountable for their unfathomable treatment of another human being,” said Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Cleveland Office. “The FBI will continue to aggressively pursue and bring to justice those individuals that force others into unlawful labor or sex practices.” Callahan, Hunt and Silsby face one count each of the following: conspiracy to violate laws; forced labor; theft of government benefits and acquiring a controlled substance by deception. Callahan and Hunt face an additional charge of tampering with a witness. The conspiracy between Callahan, Hunt, Silsby and Brown took place between August 2010 and October 2012. The object of the conspiracy included holding Eckley in a condition of forced labor and involuntary servitude; obtaining her and her daughter's public assistance benefits and intentionally causing painful injuries to Eckley so they could use the narcotic pain medications she was prescribed to satisfy their personal drug craving, according to the indictment. Callahan and Hunt recruited Eckley and her daughter to live with them in their two-bedroom apartment in Ashland, knowing that she had a cognitive disability and that she received monthly public assistance payments, according to the indictment. In or around September 2010, Callahan and Hunt forced Eckley to have her and her daughter's public assistance benefits issued on a debit card rather than paper check. They then took control of the card, forced Eckley to give them the PIN and used the card for their own benefit and the benefit of their family and friends, according to the indictment. In August 2011, Silsby, at the direction of Callahan and Hunt, smashed Eckley’s hand with a rock with such force that Eckley needed to go to the hospital emergency room. Callahan, Hunt and Silsby then forced Eckley to give them the narcotic pain pills and prescription for narcotic pain pills she obtained after being treated at the emergency room, according to the indictment. In December 2011, Callahan and Hunt injured Eckley’s back with such force that she needed medical treatment. Again, Callahan and Hunt forced Eckley to give them the narcotic pain pills and prescription for narcotic pain pills she obtained after being treated, according to the indictment. In March 2012, Callahan kicked Eckley in the hip with such force that she needed medical treatment. Callahan and Hunt forced Eckley to give them the narcotic pain pills and prescription for narcotic pain pills she obtained after being treated, according to the indictment. On multiple occasions between August 2010 and October 2012, Callahan and Hunt threatened Eckley and her daughter with serious physical harm, including death, if Eckley did not clean up the apartment, care for their numerous pit bull dogs, snakes and other reptiles, purchase items at the store and perform other labor and services ordered by the conspirators, according to the indictment. Callahan and Hunt used a video camera to monitor Eckley and her daughter's activities and conversations in the apartment. They often forced Eckley to walk to the store to buy groceries, cigarettes, dog food and other items for Callahan, Hunt and Hunt’s four sons and to pay for these purchases with her public assistance card. They allotted Eckley only a brief time period to complete the shopping and warned her she was not allowed to speak with anyone while she was out. They frequently required her daughter to remain with them at the apartment while Eckley was out and threatened physical harm to both of them if she broke any of their rules, according to the indictment. Callahan and Hunt also threatened to contact Ashland County Job and Family Services and have Eckley's daughter taken away if she purchased any items at the store other than those they ordered or if she told anyone about their unlawful conduct, according to the indictment. In June 2011, after Eckley and her daughter had attempted to flee the apartment, Callahan and Hunt ordered Brown and Silsby to find them and bring them back to the apartment. Brown and Silsby lured them into their vehicle by promising to take them to Dairy Queen, only to deposit them afterwards back at the apartment, according to the indictment. On multiple occasions, Callahan and Brown locked Eckley and her daughter in a room with a window that was nailed shut and a door that had been locked from the outside, according to the indictment. In October 2011, Callahan and Hunt forced Eckley to hit her child while they recorded a video, and threatened to inflict much greater physical harm on both of them if she did not comply, according to the indictment. One month later, Callahan and Hunt again forced Eckley to strike her daughter while they captured a video recording of the staged incident on Callahan’s cell phone. Callahan and Hunt repeatedly threatened have the girl taken away by showing the videos to authorities in order to secure Eckley's compliance to the conspirators’ commands.   The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chelsea Rice and Thomas E. Getz, with assistance from Trial Attorney Victor Boutros of the Justice Department’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, following an investigation by the FBI and Ashland Police Department, with assistance from the Ashland County Prosecutor’s Office.

   
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