The Justice Deparment announced today that Andre James Hertzog, 29, of St. Paul, Minn. pleaded guilty to participating in a sex trafficking conspiracy. Hertzog pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.
During his plea hearing, Hertzog admitted that from April 2011 to August 2012, he and a co-conspirator, Nicole Bramer, of St. Paul, Minn., engaged in a scheme to recruit two young women and compel them to engage in commercial sex acts. Working together, Hertzog and the co-conspirator used coercive tactics, including physical violence and psychological coercion, to isolate the victims and cause them to engage in commercial sex acts. Hertzog further admitted that his co-conspirator transported the older victim across state lines for the purpose of having her engage in commercial sex acts in July 2011, and that he and the co-conspirator transported the younger victim across state lines for the purpose of having her engage in commercial sex acts in July and August of 2012. The defendant admitted he knew that the co-conspirator used her computer to advertise the commercial sex services of one of the victims on the website backpage.com.
At sentencing, Hertzog faces a maximum penalty of up to life in prison on the sex trafficking conspiracy charge.
On May 29, 2013, the co-defendant, Nicole Bramer, pleaded guilty to participating in the sex trafficking conspiracy. Bramer also faces a maximum penalty of up to life in prison on the sex trafficking conspiracy charge.
“The defendants preyed upon vulnerable young women and used violence, threats, and psychological intimidation to exploit the victims and coerce them into prostitution ,” said Roy L. Austin Jr., Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The department of Justice is committed to prosecuting those who sexually exploit vulnerable women for financial benefit. I also would like to commend the FBI for its strong commitment to this effort and for its outstanding work in this case.”
“Human Trafficking often victimizes the most vulnerable among us. The FBI remains fully committed to bringing to justice those who engage in this heinous crime,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge J. Chris Warrener.
The is being investigated by the Minneapolis Field Office of the FBI and prosecuted jointly by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Kappelhoff, Trial Attorney Christine M. Siscaretti and Amanda Gregory of the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division.
Anyone who may have information about this or any other human trafficking matter is encouraged to report that information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 763-569-8000. For information about human trafficking, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center’s toll-free hotline (1-888-373-7888) is available to answer calls from anywhere in the country.