Craigslist suspect pleads not guilty to prostitution charges

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 02, 2011 12:33 PM
Craigslist suspect pleads not guilty to prostitution charges

By Kim Palmer

AKRON, Ohio (Reuters) - A man identified as a suspect in the murders of three men killed after answering a phony Craigslist job ad pleaded not guilty to unrelated prostitution charges on Friday.

Richard J. Beasley, 52, of Akron was indicted in Summit County court on 15 counts of promoting and compelling prostitution.

Beasley has not been charged with the shooting deaths of the three men -- two found in Noble County and one in Akron -- but FBI spokesperson Michael Brooks confirmed Beasley is a suspect in those crimes.

Beasley's attorney, Rhonda Kotnik, told Reuters her client is currently being held on a $1 million bond for drug charges. Kotnik said there also is a federal hold on her client, which prevents him posting bond.

Beasley appeared in a Summit County court via video from the county jail but made no statement.

Kotnik says she has not been told of any pending charges against her client related to the deaths or shooting in Noble County and Akron.

"He wants to know what is happening," Kotnik said. "He wants me to find out and all I know is what is in the media."

A judge in Noble County has issued a gag order in the case and the FBI confirmed that any federal charges filed are under seal. Brooks could not confirm or deny on Friday that any federal charges had yet been filed against Beasley.

Last week, the Summit County coroner confirmed the body found in a shallow grave in Akron is that of Timothy Kern, 47, reported missing after his family said he answered an ad on Craigslist.

A preliminary autopsy of a second body found in Noble County confirmed the victim was a white male who died of gunshot wounds to the head. No official ID has been made yet.

A Craigslist ad was used to bring a South Carolina man, identified by local media as Scott Davis, 48, to Ohio earlier in November. Davis told a local sheriff he was shot in the arm on November 6 as he ran away from two men.

Davis said he hid in the woods for hours before walking two miles for help. Authorities arrested two suspects in connection with the shooting, including a 16-year-old high school junior. The boy was charged last week with attempted murder and complicity to attempted murder in juvenile court.

Authorities found the body of a man identified by local media as David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Virginia, in a shallow grave not far from where Davis said he was shot.

The prostitution charges include an accusation that Beasley compelled a 17-year-old male to engage in sexual activity for hire. Beasley has also been charged with a number of crimes earlier this year including aggravated menacing, possession and cultivation of marijuana. A warrant was issued after he failed to appear for his trial.

Beasley's next court date is December 22.

(Editing by Mary Wisniewski and Jerry Norton)