YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – An amusement ride operator from South Carolina who was arrested at the Canfield Fair appeared in court Tuesday morning for an extradition hearing.
Late Tuesday morning, 30-year-old Brandon Walsh agreed to be returned to South Carolina within the next two weeks, where he faces a solicitation of a minor charge. He is accused of asking a 13-year-old girl for sex and to send nude pictures.
Walsh was arrested Thursday while running a kiddie ride for Bates Amusement at the Canfield Fair — one of two different companies with similar-sounding names operating at the fair.
Just a few days later, police arrested a second ride operator, Jose Moreno-Benites.
He also works for Bates Amusement and faces a misdemeanor sexual imposition charge. Moreno-Benites is accused of groping a teen girl at the Canfield Fair on Saturday.
“Without going into any detail, it was improper touching is what he is accused of,” said Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene.
After his arrest, he was spotted back at the fairgrounds again the next day before being removed.
“I know police are running an internal investigation on it with the fair board and the fair police on how he was able to get back on the property,” Greene said.
Investigators said Moreno-Benites is from Mexico and is here under a federal H-2B work visa.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security conducted Moreno-Benites’ background check, which came up clean.
His lawyer filed paperwork Tuesday so he didn’t have to appear in court. A hearing has been set for another day.
In the meantime, owners of Bates Brothers Amusements — the other ride operator in Canfield — insist the two arrested men have nothing to do with their company.
The two businesses are run by siblings and are both are based in Wintersville in southern Ohio. Both also used the same firm to vet their workers.
Walsh may have escaped detection on his background check by giving a false name and other information in order to get hired — something local authorities may be keeping a closer eye on in the future.
“It’s 100 percent on our radar now, yeah, absolutely, as I’m sure the fair board will be as well,” Greene said.