Toledo attorney files suit against Web sites posting mugshots

Alleges sites are extorting individuals

Scott Ciolek
Scott Ciolek

A class-action lawsuit filed in Lucas County Common Pleas Court alleges that Web sites that catalog and post mugshots of arrested people are extorting those individuals.

Toledo-based attorney Scott Ciolek filed the suit Monday. He said the Web sites -- there are dozens of them -- use public records requests to get mugshots from county and state agencies that arrest and book people into jails or prisons.

Mr. Ciolek said the mugshots -- more than 259,000 Ohioans are on these sites -- can be taken down, though there are two options.

The first, free option requires the person whose picture is online to file an application that proves their innocence, Mr. Ciolek said. That process, if the application is approved, can take two to three months.

For more immediate removal, an individual can pay at least $200 to have the photo removed from the site and also from general search engines, such as Google.

“They have to pay these Web sites to remove their photo which is extortion,” Mr. Ciolek said.

Mr. Ciolek said the commercial gain by the Web sites violates Ohio's right to publicity law.

The suit currently lists two plaintiffs, Debra Lashaway, of Holland, Ohio, and Phillip Kaplan, of Toledo.

Five defendants are named:,,,, and

Additional plantiffs and defendants could be added to the suit.