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Press Release

Stockton Woman Sentenced to More Than 17 Years in Prison for Sex Trafficking Children

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Dawniel Santangelo, 44, of Stockton, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller to 17 years and seven months in prison for conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of a child, three counts of sex trafficking a child, and transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to evidence presented at trial, between September 2018 and May 2019, Santangelo recruited 15-, 16-, and 17-year-old girls to engage in prostitution throughout Northern California and Southern Oregon. Santangelo enticed the girls to perform sex acts for strangers by providing alcohol, drugs, and creating a party atmosphere in motels in Stockton and Salinas. She then posted online prostitution ads depicting the victims and brought the victims to truck stops and motels to have sex with men for money, which she and co-defendant Lucious James Roy, 34, of Stockton, took from the victims. After the victims began engaging in commercial sex acts, Santangelo urged them to continue, reassuring them when they felt insecure.

In early May 2019, Santangelo and Roy recruited a 15-year-old runaway from the Modesto area to engage in prostitution. They drove the victim from Merced to Medford, Oregon, Santangelo’s former hometown, where Santangelo advertised on the internet and harbored the victim in a motel room that she rented. After a few days in Oregon, the victim called her family for help, and police officers subsequently found the victim in Santangelo’s motel room along with Santangelo and Roy.

“Santangelo’s conduct in this case was egregious. She played an essential part in the conspiracy recruiting the girls with false promises of freedom and fun. Once she reeled them in, she quickly put them to work, exploiting three children over hundreds of miles for over nine months,” said U.S. Attorney Talbert. “Today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of the crime and should deter others from engaging in such conduct. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will relentlessly target and prosecute sexual predators who victimize vulnerable children.”

This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Stockton Police Department, the San Joaquin District Attorney’s Office, the Medford (Oregon) Police Department, and the Jackson County (Oregon) District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron L. Desmond prosecuted the case.

On April 12, 2021, Roy was sentenced by Judge Mueller to 17 years and seven months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of a child.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute those who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit Click on the “resources” tab for information about internet-safety education.

Updated August 29, 2022

Project Safe Childhood