Man pleads in Ohio slave labor case

An Ohio man pleaded guilty Thursday to helping enslave and beat a mentally disabled woman who prosecutors say was recruited and targeted along with her daughter as part of a plot to obtain the woman’s government benefits and steal her pain medication.

The plea entered by Daniel Brown in federal court in Youngstown requires him to cooperate with investigators and testify truthfully in any court proceedings.

Magistrate Judge George Limbert set sentencing for Brown for Nov. 19 and ordered him to remain in custody.

Brown pleaded guilty to a single conspiracy charge. A message was left with his lawyer, Russell Bensing, who had previously indicated his client would plead guilty.

Brown, 33, was among four people charged with holding the woman against her will beginning in 2010 and lasting until October in a house in Ashland, 80 miles northeast of Columbus.

Three other defendants – Jordie Callahan, Jessica Hunt and Dezerah Silsby have pleaded not guilty to charges against them, which include allegations the woman was denied food, sexually assaulted and threatened with dogs and snakes.

Prosecutors say the woman was hit badly enough to require a hospital visit for pain medicine, which the defendants then took from her. They also allege the woman was forced to use her public assistance money to buy groceries and cigarettes for the defendants.

Callahan’s mother, Becky Callahan, has described the charges as “lies.” Hunt’s public defender, Ed Bryan, has said the charges stem from overzealous police and prosecutors trusting the word of people who had something to gain by lying. He said the woman was not held as a slave.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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