PORTSMOUTH, OH (WOWK) – 75-year-old Michael Mearan, a lawyer in Portsmouth, Ohio was facing nine counts of promoting prostitution, five counts of compelling prostitution, three counts of human trafficking, and one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

These charges are from criminal activity involving six female victims that allegedly occurred between 2003 and 2018.

Mearan operated a law firm in the city of Portsmouth until his arrest in 2020. He pleaded not guilty and had posted his bail of three-hundred thousand dollars a few days after his arrest.

His death was confirmed by Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost Friday evening. This sudden news comes just a little more than a month away from his trial.

In a recent tweet, Yost addressed the situation regarding the victims of these crimes. He writes “At least he died publicly charged for his crimes, and his victims knew the dignity of being heard and believed. They have survived him.”

But for residents of Portsmouth, Ohio they feel this is far from over. First Ward Councilperson Sean Dunne says from what’s he’s heard from residents, they believe a much thorough investigation should follow this.

He says with many in the area being affected by the opioid epidemic during this timeframe “there’s many that felt like there were several individuals that preyed upon people in vulnerable situations.”

If convicted, Mearan would have faced nearly 70 years in prison. There’s no word yet on the cause of his death.