Jail recordings sealed suspect’s fate in Mahoning County human trafficking case

Local News

We are learning more about how the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Department helped to get a conviction in a case involving a man who sold his own family members for sex.

The jail phone recordings of David Kalna, which played a major role in the case, have been released.

Kalna was sentenced last week to 30 years in prison, the maximum allowed, for selling his young relatives for sex in return for drug money. 

Kalna called his victims multiple times, not only asking them to testify but telling them exactly what to say. While Kalna knew his conversations were being recorded, he didn’t hold back.

Kalna told one person, “without you, them witnesses don’t mean (expletive).”

Assistant Mahoning County Prosecutor Steve Yacavone says the recordings say it all. In one clip, Kalna is heard saying: “Tell them what you told me and stick to that. That it’s over. They have nothing. They have to let me go.”

“What they had gone through. What they had dealt with. He did not care. It was what can I have you say that will get me out of here the quickest,” Yacavone said.

Yacavone and Assistant Mahoning County Prosecutor Jennifer McLaughlin say the jury had visible reactions to the recordings, and that was reflected in their decision.

“We did get a chance to hear from the jury after the case was over. They seemed to believe, in fact, they told us, that those recordings really were the nail in the coffin,” McLaughlin said.

Kalna’s the first person in Mahoning County to be indicted on human trafficking charges. McLaughlin and Yacavone consider the case historical but also eye opening for the public.

“Trafficking isn’t just what we would, traditionally, imagine it to be. It can be something like this where someone is using their familial relationship to abuse a child,” McLaughlin said.

Yacavone says the maximum sentence is a message that all kinds of human trafficking won’t be tolerated.

There’s another human trafficking case pending right now. It involves a human trafficking ring in Mahoning County we’ve been reporting on, but the case is still in its beginning stages.

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Mel Robbins Main Area Middle

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