Local doctor arrested in connection to Central Ohio human trafficking investigation


Austin Kosier’s booking photo was provided by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

By Christine Holmes and Jessica Johnston

A 31 year-old emergency room doctor for Genesis Hospital in Zanesville is among more than 100 arrested as part of a human trafficking sting in Central Ohio. 

According to court records, Austin Kosier of Columbus was arrested Tuesday and posted bond at $10,085 following his arraignment in Franklin County Municipal Court Wednesday morning.

He is charged with one fourth-degree felony count of attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor and one fifth-degree felony count of importuning.

Kosier first joined the Genesis staff in 2018 after graduating from The University of Toledo College of Medicine in 2015 and completing his residency at The Ohio State University College of Medicine in 2018, according to a page that is no longer available on the Genesis Healthcare System website. 

“The employee is currently not actively working and is on indefinite administrative leave pending further understanding of the circumstances,” Kelley Daspit, APR, Director, Genesis Marketing and Public Relations stated in a media release Friday. 

According to Steve Irwin, Senior Public Information Officer for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, Kosier became a subject in the human trafficking investigation when he responded to a person he believed to be a minor.

“These charges come from his response to the operation,” Irwin said. “There’s no victim, he was responding to the operation, so it’s an undercover operation … These charges are not tied to a real victim, rather his interaction with what he believed to be a minor.”

While Irwin said not much could be discussed surrounding the operation, he said Kosier did use telecommunication methods to respond.

“He sought out what he believed was a minor,” Irwin said.

Due to the open and ongoing investigation, Irwin could not speak to whether Kosier ever presented a threat to any of his patients he may have provided care to at the hospital.

Kosier’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 20, at 9 a.m. in the Franklin County Municipal Court.

Sheriff Matt Lutz said, the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office was not involved in the investigation involving over 30 law enforcement agencies, resulting in 104 arrests mostly throughout Central Ohio. 

According to a release from Attorney General Dave Yost’s Office, 24 individuals were arrested and charged with felonies for importuning and attempted unlawful sexual conduct with a minor after seeking to engage in sexual activity with whom they believed to be juveniles. One of those individuals was additionally charged with attempted rape and another with disseminating matter harmful for juveniles. 

Those arrested are:

  • Timothy Coffey, 52, Columbus
  • Joshua Love, 27, Columbus
  • Jose Montoya, 22, Columbus
  • Christian Bryant, 30, Columbus
  • Michael Sweeney, 39, Columbus
  • Steven Weakley, 20, Grove City
  • Austin Kosier, 31, Columbus
  • John Shimizu, 28, Dublin
  • Steven Wilson , 36, Columbus
  • Alex Kim, 22, Dublin
  • Steven Barcus,45, Westerville
  • Rick Birman, 59, Columbus
  • Mark Fitzgerald II, 32 , Portsmouth
  • Scott Fierro, 38, Marysville
  • Daniel Clingman, 38, Pataskala
  • Jonas Wernick, 20, Upper Arlington
  • David Bond, 48, Columbus
  • Neil Bond, 28, Methuen, Mass.
  • James Good, 33, Marysville
  • Brian Basil, 28, Grove City
  • Logan Detty , 21, Chillicothe
  • Cesar Lopez, 22, Columbus
  • Christian Gibson, 26, Groveport
  • Cody Conn, 22, Reynoldsburg

The following individuals were arrested on solicitation charges:

  • Javier Justinia, 39, Hilliard
  • Adrian Guglielmetti, 54, Westerville
  • Miguel Vasquez-Reyes, 20, Independence, La.
  • Matthew Savage, 48, Lewis Center
  • Vincent Rhoden, 40, Lewis Center
  • Kevin Albanese, 50, Powell
  • Marc Coughanour, 36, Clarkesville
  • Jaya Ponaka, 29, Powell
  • Brian Deck, 52, Lewis Center
  • Jesus Gonzalez Avila, unknown
  • Abshir Omar, unknown
  • Gary Jr. Childers, 39, Newark
  • Samuel Chitison, 22, Pickerington
  • Wesley Howard, 48, Pomeroy
  • Jonathan Otavalo, 23, Columbus
  • Dominic Hodge, unknown
  • Corbin Dotson, unknown
  • Lamont Brown, unknown
  • Vyacheslav Panasovich, Galloway
  • Earl Miller, 41, Waverly
  • Gregory Wilson, 62, Iroquis, Can.
  • Luis Alicea, 42, Columbus
  • Mohamed Mohamed, 29, Columbus
  • Michael Wilson, unknown
  • Christopher Davis, 34, Columbus
  • Quayjuan English, 25, Columbus
  • Michael Wilson, 46, Hilliard
  • Casey Barnes, 22, Newark
  • Virgil Caldwell, 53, Lockbourne
  • Joseph Friedman, 61, Canton
  • Emory Legge, 51, Bellefointaine
  • Miguel Tellez-Flores, 32, Columbus
  • Mark Williams, 66, Irwin
  • Darwin Menjivar, 31, Richmond Heights
  • Jarkay Jackson, 23, Cheyenne, Wyo.
  • Mouhmed Sene,28, Columbus

All were arrested as part of the operation known as “Fourth and Goal.”

“You don’t know when a man buys sex whether it’s genuine consent or, rather, the victim is being forced with a baseball bat, a knife or the next hit of heroin,” Yost said. “When you hear a man talking about buying sex, he never says, ‘I’m buying a woman.’ He talks about a whore, a slut, a piece – and that’s because saying what is really happening is too close to the truth for them to handle. People who think and talk like that know in their heart of hearts – it’s slavery.”

Additionally, 43 woman were referred to social services and CATCH Court (Changing Actions to Change Habits).

CATCH Court is a program for individuals charged in the Franklin County Municipal Court with prostitution, solicitation, loitering to solicit or other offenses. The defendants are considered victims of human trafficking and are given health-related resources.