East McKeesport's former public works director was convicted in a human trafficking sting on Tuesday.
Joseph Clemenic Jr., 44, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a child after an FBI probe revealed he paid an underage girl to come to his home to have sex in April, according to court documents. He is scheduled to be sentenced in November and could spend up to nine years in prison.
Earlier this year, Mario Grisom, 34, of Homestead was arrested for running an online prostitution ring that he advertised on the website backpage.com. Grisom identified Clemenic as a purchaser of commercial sex acts. Authorities found text messages on Grisom’s phone from Clemenic, U.S. Attorney David Hickton said.
“The text messages from Grisom to Clemenic expressly detailed the specific ages, 15 and 16, of the minor females being sent to Clemenic’s home,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica Smolar said.
Hickton said human trafficking isn’t something Pittsburghers can afford to ignore.
“Many of them are being bought and sold for sex right here in the United States,” he said. Several have occured in southwestern Pennsylvania, he said.
The U.S. Department of State estimates nearly 800,000 people are trafficked every year. Nearly half are believed to be children.
“The case against Clemenic represents the first time that this office has charged a purchaser of sex with an underage child,” he said.
The investigation, part of a broader effort to address sex trafficking, was led by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, Allegheny County Police and Pittsburgh Police.