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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 7, 2022

Felon Sentenced for Sex Trafficking, Drug, and Firearm Charges

A Norfolk man was sentenced today to 460 months in prison for sex trafficking, fraud, conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and other drugs, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

According to court documents, LeAnthony Winston, 34, is a six-time convicted felon. Shortly after he was released from state prison in December 2019 for firearm and drug convictions, Winston obtained another firearm and began to traffic methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, and cocaine base.

From March through May 2020, Winston trafficked two homeless women in Norfolk and coerced them into engaging in commercial sex. He used a combination of false promises of love and protection, threats, and violence, including beatings and pointing a firearm at the women to gain compliance. Winston’s co-conspirator, Tonya Hardesty, 37, of Norfolk, trained the women, created advertisements, and set up commercial sex “dates” with clients, while Winston set the prices and kept all of the proceeds from commercial sex. He also distributed drugs to the women, including methamphetamine and crack, to keep them awake so that they could have as many “dates” as possible and so that they would be indebted to him for the cost of the drugs.

On April 15, 2020, Norfolk Police Department patrol officers responded to the Ocean View Inn Motel in Norfolk after Winston beat, choked, and threatened to kill one of the women in a dispute about money. The female victim stated that she was assaulted by her “pimp,” so the patrol officers referred the case to Norfolk vice and narcotics detectives for further investigation.

After an investigation, Winston was arrested in Norfolk on May 27, 2020.  At the time of his arrest, Winston had approximately 16.8 grams of crack cocaine in his pocket. Within the hotel room, law enforcement found the second female victim and Winston’s loaded firearm. After Winston was taken into custody, he continued to coerce the second female to engage in commercial sex, claiming that he would be out on a bond soon. He also threatened her over a jail call.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Raymond Villanueva, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. Field Office; and Larry D. Boone, Chief of Norfolk Police, made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amanda Turner and Megan Montoya are prosecuting the case.

This investigation was conducted by the Hampton Roads Human Trafficking Task Force, a collaboration between federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutors, as well as non-governmental organizations, working together to combat human trafficking in the Hampton Roads Region. The Virginia Army National Guard Counterdrug Task Force provided significant assistance in this investigation.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:20-cr-108.

Topic(s): 
Human Trafficking
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Contact: 
USAVAE.Press@usdoj.gov
Updated March 7, 2022