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kC woman pleads guilty to coerced sex trafficking of a child

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 19, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Beth Phillips, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Kansas City, Mo., woman pleaded guilty in federal court today to selling a child victim into prostitution.

Brandy Key, also known as Brandy Wheeler, 39, of Kansas City, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner to the charge contained in a March 1, 2011, federal indictment.

By pleading guilty today, Key admitted that she operated a prostitution ring that assisted and profited from the coerced sex trafficking of a child.

Co-defendant Eric Gathings, also known as “Pulu,” 37, of Columbia, Mo., pleaded guilty on Oct. 12, 2011. Gathings admitted that in 2009 he recruited a homeless minor to engage in prostitution for his financial benefit. Gathings provided housing for the minor victim, but took her earnings after requiring that she sell herself for sex.
After discharging a sawed-off shotgun in his front yard, Gathings was incarcerated in state custody. During this time of incarceration, he continued to sell the minor victim through the assistance of Key’s prostitution ring, Aleesha’s Angels. Key handled the minor victim while Gathings was in custody and sold her for sex on his behalf. This included, but was not limited to, scheduling her appointments with customers and advertising her for sex acts on the Internet.

Gathings had the minor victim provide him with her prostitution earnings to assist him with bond and later to provide him with funding for his prisoner’s account.

Under the terms of today’s binding plea agreement, Key is subject to a minimum sentence of three years in federal prison without parole, up to a sentence of 10 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia L. Cordes. It was investigated by the FBI and the Columbia, Mo., Police Department, with assistance from the Cole County, Mo., Prosecutor’s Office, in conjunction with the Human Trafficking Rescue Project.

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