According to court documents, SCHENCK met Dominique Berry in New Orleans in about early 2013 and soon developed a romantic relationship. Shortly thereafter, SCHENCK encouraged Berry to engage in commercial sex activities (i.e., prostitution) with individuals in the New Orleans, Louisiana area and became involved in the scheduling, coordination, and facilitation of Berry’s commercial sex acts. SCHENCK typically kept all, or most, of the proceeds of the commercial sex acts.
Beginning in about March 2014, and continuing through September 2017, SCHENCK and Berry travelled nationally engaging in their prostitution enterprise, including through California, Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Tennessee, and Georgia. In furtherance of the enterprise, Berry regularly engaged in commercial sex acts on multiple days of nearly every week between about March 2014 and September 2017. SCHENCK and Berry posted numerous advertisements containing photographs of Berry on multiple location-specific online classified ad service websites and social media applications in that invited interested individuals to contact Berry to schedule sexual interactions, many of which were explicitly commercial.
Beginning in about 2015, the prostitution enterprise evolved to include a scheme to defraud, whereby SCHENCK caused Berry to arrange “out call” interactions at the residences of men who met her through online postings. While at those residences, Berry placed substances in the beverages of the men for the purpose of “spiking” their drinks and rendering them unconscious. Berry then took items of value from the incapacitated men, including jewelry, firearms, electronics, cash, and debit and credit cards. SCHENCK and Berry used the items, without the knowledge or authorization of the people to whom the items belonged, for their benefit and the benefit of individuals associated with them. SCHENCK and Berry implemented the scheme numerous times throughout the United States.
In sentencing SCHENCK, Judge Ashe found that he utilized force, threats of force, fraud, and coercion in initially recruiting Berry to work for him and to keep her compliant and under his control. Also, the Court heard substantial evidence of numerous acts of violence that SCHENCK committed against Berry and her family members, as well as threats to commit additional violent acts in the future, particularly after she attempted to leave his control or otherwise disobeyed his instructions. At least one of the instances resulted in Berry’s hospitalization.
In furtherance of the scheme, on about February 24, 2017, Berry met S.A., a resident of Metairie, Louisiana, through a social media application. After exchanging text messages and phone calls, Berry and S.A. agreed to meet at S.A.’s apartment. SCHENCK dropped Berry off at S.A.’s apartment. While at S.A.’s apartment, Berry, as directed by SCHENCK provided S.A. with various substances, including alcohol, to loosen S.A.’s inhibitions and to render him more susceptible to theft. After S.A. became incapacitated, Berry stole S.A.’s personal property, including a debit card. SCHENCK picked up Berry at approximately 1:00 am and then used S.A.’s debit card, later that day, without S.A.’s authorization, to make a purchase at a Walmart Supercenter in New Orleans. Law enforcement authorities performed a wellness check on S.A.’s apartment the following day and found S.A. deceased.
U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter and expressed appreciation for the support provided by numerous law enforcement agencies and private entities involved in the investigation, including the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Tucson (Arizona) Police Department, the Salt River (Arizona) Police Department, the Cobb County (Georgia) Police Department, the Sandy Springs (Georgia) Police Department, the Sacramento (California) Police Department, and Talking Stick Casino (Arizona). Assistant United States Attorneys Jordan Ginsberg, chief of the Public Corruption Unit, and Melissa Bücher are in charge of the prosecution.
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