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Oct. 6, 2011

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Houston Man Charged with Sex Trafficking

HOUSTON - A federal grand jury has charged 30-year-old Jerald Bland aka “Moe Betta” with sex trafficking of two minors and one adult as well as transporting one adult and one minor for the purposes of prostitution, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.

The five-count indictment returned by the grand jury today, alleges that beginning in March 2010 through June 2010, Bland used force, fraud or coercion to cause two minors and one adult female to engage in commercial sex acts. Bland is also accused of transporting one minor and one adult female from Texas to Louisiana to engage in prostitution in violation of federal statutes. 

The United States has sought a court order to transfer Bland from state custody into federal custody to face the charges and appear for arraignment on a date to be set by the court.

Each of the three counts accusing Bland of sex trafficking carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000 upon conviction. Depending on whether a jury were to find that the victims were minors or that he used force fraud or coercion Bland would face minimum mandatory sentences of 10 to 15 years on the sex trafficking charges. The transportation charge relating to the adult victim carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison. The transportation of a minor charge carries a minimum penalty of 10 years in prison with a maximum of life in prison. Each of those charges also carries a $250,000 fine. If convicted, upon release from any prison sentence Bland would be subject to at least five years of supervised release in which the court would require the defendant conform to certain requirements based on the nature of the charges. The defendant could be on supervised release for life, and if convicted, the defendant would have to register as a sex offender.
This investigation leading to the federal charges was conducted by the Houston FBI Innocence Lost Task Force in conjunction with Houston Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sherri L. Zack is prosecuting the case.

An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty by due process of law.