Seven arrested on theft, corruption, bribery charges involving auction house

Two of seven people arrested Friday and charged in relation to an alleged theft and corruption scheme involving a Ravenna auction house pleaded not guilty in court Monday morning.

Hussein M. Ashkanani, 20, of Paris Township and Martha E. Lovejoy, 62, of Ravenna Township are charged with engaging in patterns of corrupt activity, aggravated theft, receiving stolen property, passing bad checks and bribery, all felonies.

Also arrested Friday and facing the same charges are Muhammad M. Ashkanani, 50, of Paris Township; Pearl M. Ashkanani, 44, of Paris Township, Jasim M. Ashkanani, 23, of Paris Township and Ali M. Ashkanani, 19, of Paris Township. Pearl Ashkanani, Jasim Ashkanani and Ali Ashkanani were not assigned lawyers prior to the start of court Monday and Muhammad Ashkanani’s lawyer did not appear in court on Monday, so their cases were not heard.

Ed Frost, 29, of Paris Township was also arrested and charged in the same indictment, but he is currently incarcerated in Geauga County on charges that he passed a $2.5 million bad check. He has an extensive criminal history and is currently listed as an Ohio sex offender by the Ohio Attorney General.

All seven are associated with MPA Liquidations, which was hosting auctions on Friday nights in a former pressroom that spans the block between Hickory Way and North Prospect Street. Muhammad and Pearl Ashkanani own the company, according to state records.

The arrests were made based on a three-month investigation conducted by the Ravenna Police Department with assistance from the FBI, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Portage County Sheriff’s Office, Portage County Drug Task Force and the Portage County Prosecutor’s Office.

According to an indictment unsealed in Portage County Common Pleas Court on Monday, seven cars were also seized in the raid, including a 2019 Chevrolet Corvette, a 2019 Mercedes Light GLE 43CA, a 2019 Chevrolet Tahoe, a 2013 Dodge Viper, a 2017 Jaguar F-Type, a 2015 Nissan GTR and a 2019 Chevrolet Traverse.

According to their social media profiles and court records, Muhammad Ashkanani and Pearl Ashkanani are married and Jasim, Ali and Hussein Ashkanani are their children. Lovejoy is Pearl Ashkanani’s mother.

The Ravenna Police Department is still working the investigation. Anyone with information should contact the Ravenna Detective Bureau at 330-296-6486.

Judge Laurie Pittman set jury trials for Lovejoy and Hussein Ashkanani for June 26.

Contact reporter Eileen McClory at 330-298-1128, emcclory@recordpub.com or @Eileen_McClory.