The United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania has announced sex trafficking charges against a resident of Scranton. The alleged sex crimes took place in Lackawanna, Luzerne and Monroe counties.
According to the federal prosecutors, the defendant worked with several other men, some of whom are known to investigators, to carry out the alleged trafficking scheme. The men allegedly used force, threats, fraud and drugs to coerce women into participating in the trafficking scheme. The men took photos of the women using cell phones and posted the photos the web site backpage.com. The defendant and his co-conspirators are alleged to have preyed upon women with addictions to heroin, cocaine and MDMA.
According to the indictment, the alleged crimes occurred from April 2015 to September 2016. Prosecutors allege that men arranged meetings with customers and transported the women to various hotels, where sexual services were provided in return for compensation. The indictment alleges that the defendant set up sexual encounters at local hotels, including the Red Carpet Inn and Suites, the Scranton Econo Lodge and four other hotels in the area. The defendant named in the indictment has been charged with four counts of sex trafficking using force and coercion, one count of possession with intent to deliver illegal substances and one count of tampering with a witness. The defendant is currently being held in Columbia County Prison pending the arraignment.
The defendant in this case faces very serious charges, but he is entitled to be presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Anyone facing similar charges may benefit from a consultation with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. Such a consultation can provide a useful evaluation of the case and the applicable law and an estimate of the likelihood of obtaining a favorable plea agreement or an outright acquittal.
Source: Scranton Times-Tribune, "Scranton man charged with sex trafficking," Peter Cameron, Oct. 27, 2016