(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—A retired Garfield Heights Police Officer and a Northeast Ohio Sex Trafficking Task Force received awards today at the 2011 Ohio Attorney General’s Law Enforcement Conference. Lieutenant Nick DiMarco, of the Garfield Heights Police Department, received the Mark Losey Distinguished Law Enforcement Service Award. Officers and attorneys who were part of “Operation Traverse” received a Distinguished Law Enforcement Group Achievement Award.
“While we honor all the sacrifices law enforcement makes every single day to help protect Ohio families, these awards recognize individual officers and task forces who bravely serve the citizens of Ohio and have provided distinguished service to their communities and departments,” said Attorney General DeWine.
Lieutenant DiMarco retired in February, marking 45 years with the department. Perhaps best known among the initiatives Lt. DiMarco launched is the George Murray Fraternal Order of Police Lodge’s Shop with a Cop program. Through the program, underprivileged children receive $100 to Christmas shop for loved ones. Garfield Heights police officers accompany the youngsters on their excursions, which are funded by community raffles. The program’s success has prompted other FOP lodges to follow suit with programs of their own. Lieutenant DiMarco also started the city’s Neighborhood Block Watch Program and McGruff the Crime Dog Program. In 2005, Lt. DiMarco oversaw an effort to raise more than $8,000 for fellow peace officers affected by Hurricane Katrina.
Operation Traverse Task Force honorees included Senior Special Agent Gabriel Hagan, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement; Sergeant Don Sylvis, Cleveland Metroparks Ranger Department; Postal Inspector Paul Suboyu, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and U.S. Attorneys Michael Sullivan and Carol Skutnik, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Ohio. In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security created an undercover website offering secure travel from Cleveland to Canada to people interested in having sex with minors. Special agents acted undercover as facilitators of “sex tourism,” which victimizes an estimated 2 million children a year worldwide. From September 2009 to April 2011, the website logged 142,700 visits and drew inquiries from 330 individuals. The work of the award recipients resulted in four felony convictions, including a 38-year-old Millersburg, Ohio, man who is serving 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted receipt of visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct, receipt and distribution of child pornography, possession of child pornography, and travel to engage in illicit sexual conduct.
A complete list of all award winners is available online at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov/NewsReleases
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Lisa Hackley: 614-466-3840
Dan Tierney: 614-466-3840