Ashland man pleads guilty for his role in labor trafficking conspiracy
An Ashland man pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy for his role in a holding woman with cognitive disabilities and her child against their will and forcing the woman to perform manual labor, law enforcement officials said today.
Daniel J. Brown, 33, admitted that from between August 2010 through October 2012, he conspired with Jordie L. Callahan, Jessica L. Hunt and Dezerah L. Silsby to establish and continue a pattern of domination and control over their victims, identified only as S.E. and B.E.
The plea agreement includes a provision that Brown will cooperate with investigators, including testifying truthfully at all court proceedings if necessary.
Callahan, 26, Hunt, 31, and Silsby, 21, all of Ashland, were indicted earlier this month on multiple charges. They are accused of using a combination of violence, threats, sexual assaults, humiliation, deprivation and monitoring to establish and continue a pattern of domination and control over S.E. and B.E., according to the indictment.
Their tactics included beating S.E., threats of beatings to S.E. and B.E., taunting and threatening the victims with pit bulls and snakes, causing the victims to sleep in unsafe and unsanitary conditions, restricting B.E. and S.E.’s access to the bathroom, preventing them from eating regular and suitable meals and forcing S.E. to eat dog food and crawl on the floor while wearing a dog collar, according to the indictment.
Callahan pointed a firearm at S.E.’s head and threatened to kill her if she did not perform the labor and services he and other conspirators commanded. Callahan also forced S.E. on multiple occasions to engage in sex acts with him and threatened that he and Hunt would kill S.E. if she told anyone about the forced sexual acts, according to the indictment.
Callahan, Hunt and Silsby face one count each of the following: conspiracy to violate laws; forced labor; theft of government benefits and acquiring a controlled substance by deception. Callahan and Hunt face an additional charge of tampering with a witness.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chelsea Rice and Thomas E. Getz, with assistance from Trial Attorney Victor Boutros of the Justice Department’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, following an investigation by the FBI and Ashland Police Department, with assistance from the Ashland County Prosecutor’s Office.
If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including each defendant’s prior criminal record (if any), his or her role in the offenses and the characteristics of the violations. In all cases, the sentences will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases they will be less than the maximum.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.