News and Press Releases

Jesse Lewis Detained on Charges of Violently Forcing Women to Engage in Acts of Prostitution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 8, 2014

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Alysa D. Erichs, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI), and Scott Israel, Sheriff, Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO), announce the arrest and detention of Jesse Lewis, 28, on charges of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1591(a). These charges carry a minimum mandatory sentence of fifteen years and a possible maximum sentence of life in prison.

According to the allegations contained in the criminal complaint, Lewis met a 26 year- old victim in Tampa in June 2013 and offered her a place to live after finding out that she was homeless. After unsuccessfully trying to prostitute her in Tampa, Lewis transported the victim to Broward County where he took sexually provocative pictures of her, posted them on-line and then forced her to engage in prostitution dates with numerous men over the course of several days. Following each “date,” Lewis took all the money. According to the victim, Lewis choked her and slapped her in the face, instructing her to always look him in the eye and call him ‘Daddy.’ The victim said she had about 10 “dates” over several days, collecting between $80 and $150 per date, with all the money going to Lewis, who waited outside the hotel rooms during each sexual encounter. After approximately one week with Lewis, the victim was able to escape after Lewis fell asleep. She contacted the police who located Lewis and arrested him in June 2013 on what were originally state charges of human trafficking, forcing commercial sexual activity, procuring for prostitution another to become a prostitute, and living off the earnings of a prostitute. The federal criminal complaint and arrest warrant were issued shortly thereafter, but before Lewis could be taken into custody on the federal charges, he was transported to Miami-Dade County where he was facing charges of living off the earnings of a prostitute, stemming from a previous arrest in Miami Beach on March 14, 2013. Lewis pled guilty to the Miami charges and after his release from custody on April 2, 2014, he was arrested on the federal complaint.

During Lewis’ April 7, 2014 detention hearing, the government proffered additional testimony that Lewis forced another victim to engage in acts of prostitution in 2010. According to that victim, she met Lewis when she was unemployed and Lewis offered her a place to live. Soon thereafter, Lewis convinced her to work as an “escort” but when the victim told Lewis she did not want to engage in prostitution, Lewis beat her. When the victim tried to escape, Lewis prevented her from leaving by holding a gun to her head and threatening to carve the word “liar” into her forehead with a knife.

At the conclusion of the hearing, United States Magistrate Judge Patrick M. Hunt found that Lewis posed a serious danger to the community and ordered him detained pending trial.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of ICE-HSI and BSO. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Francis Viamontes.

A complaint is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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