Fort Lauderdale Man Convicted of Sex Trafficking of Minors
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael B. Steinbach, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Franklin C. Adderly, Chief of Police, Fort Lauderdale Police Department, announce that Van Lawson Williams, 49, of Fort Lauderdale, was convicted by a jury today of sex trafficking of minors, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1591(a)(1). Sentencing has not yet been scheduled.
After a six day trial before U.S. District Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley, the jury found defendant Williams guilty of four counts of sex trafficking of minors and one count of attempted sex trafficking of minors. During trial, six victims, all runaways at the time they met Williams, testified that they worked or were recruited to work as prostitutes at Williams’ residence. According to the trial evidence, Williams befriended minor female runaways in his neighborhood and invited them to stay with him at his Fort Lauderdale residence, promising them food and shelter. Williams would then convince the girls to work as prostitutes. When the customers arrived at Williams’ residence, they paid Williams a “rental fee” for use of one of the bedrooms. The customers would then engage in sexual activity with the minor of their choosing and would pay the minor for the date. The victims testified that on most occasions, they were required to give Williams the money they collected for their prostitution services. Several of the victims testified that Williams provided them with illegal narcotics, including marijuana and crack cocaine, and that he engaged in or attempted to engage in sexual activity with them.
Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark Dispoto and Corey Steinberg.
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.