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FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment today against Tyrell Richmond, 31, of Visalia, charging him with three counts of sex trafficking of a minor by force, fraud and coercion, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.
According to the criminal complaint, on June 21, 2014, FBI’s Fresno Child Exploitation Task Force and members of the Fresno Police Department’s Vice Unit conducted undercover operations targeting prostitutes who appeared to be underage. During the investigation, they detained three 16-year-old girls, all of whom were runaways, at a motel in Fresno. Further investigation revealed that Richmond had prostituted the girls for about one week, first in Visalia and then in Fresno. The girls were required to turn over to Richmond all money they earned and were not permitted to leave the motel room, other than to get ice.
Richmond is also charged with possession of a firearm by a felon. According to the indictment, he has three prior felony convictions.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Visalia Police Department, and the Fresno Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Michael Frye is prosecuting the case.
Richmond is currently in federal custody. If convicted, he faces a minimum of 15 years and up to life in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.