4th indictment issued in branding case

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A Boardman man has become the fourth person indicted in connection to the Aug. 11 branding of a Struthers teen.

Andrew Kocak, 33, was indicted Thursday by a Mahoning County grand jury on one count each of felonious assault and endangering children and two counts of intimidation. Police said Kocak is accused of burning Derek Reber, 17, with a can of chewing tobacco and a martial arts throwing star that had been heated with a torch.

Police said he also tried to get witnesses to the incident to claim Reber was 18 so prosecutors would go easier on him, leading to the intimidation charges. Kocak is free on bond and no court date has yet been set.

Also indicted in the case are:

  • Ronald Bier, 35, of Struthers, one count each of endangering children and felonious assault;
  • Bryan Pryjma, 38, of Struthers, one count each of¬†endangering children, felonious assault and corrupting another with drugs;
  • Laurie Lyden, 46, of Struthers, one count each of endangering children and corrupting another with drugs.

Police said the victim told them Bier and Pryjma held him down while Kocak burned him and Lyden videotaped the incident and gave him pain medicine and marijuana afterward. Lyden has been a clerk at the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Office for the past seven years and has been placed on administrative leave.

Bier, Pryjma and Lyden are all free on bond and have trials set for Oct. 20, according to court records.

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