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Press Release

Man and Woman Sentenced for Operating Interstate Prostitution Ring

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

GREENVILLE, N.C. – Chief Judge Terrence W. Boyle sentenced Daniel Phillip Griffin, 41, of Cleveland, Ohio, to 30 months’ imprisonment followed by 5 years’ supervised release for leading an interstate prostitution ring. Griffin previously pleaded guilty to one count of transporting a victim interstate to prostitute her. Judge Boyle previously sentenced Griffin’s codefendant, Starlett Lehti, 41, to 25 months’ imprisonment and 5 years’ supervised release for her role. Both defendants also were ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution.

Griffin and Lehti recruited three vulnerable women in Cleveland, Ohio, to prostitute for them. They manipulated the women to begin working for them, then transported the women to multiple states, ending up in Raleigh. Griffin and Lehti used a combination of methods to keep the victims prostituting for them. Griffin often misled victims to believe their relationship was romantic. He and Lehti promised big money and belonging to a “family.” In reality, Griffin took all victims’ earnings. He often threatened or intimidated victims, telling one victim, when she said that she was done, “You’ll be done when I say you’re done.” Other victims called police in a bid to escape.

Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, stated, “Daniel Griffin and Starlett Lehti exploited some of our most-vulnerable citizens for their greed. They falsely promised victims the good life; in reality, they did not care what emotional scars they left in their wake. This case is part of our office’s ongoing effort to combat human trafficking and related offenses and to ensure justice for victims.”

Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement. Homeland Security Investigations and the Raleigh Police Department investigated the case.


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Updated November 23, 2020