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Justice News

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

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Jury Convicts Man for Sex Trafficking Conspiracy

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A federal jury convicted a Woodbridge man today for his role in a conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.

“Sex traffickers often prey upon the most vulnerable victims in our society,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “The victims were targeted specifically because Rhymes knew they were vulnerable and that he could exploit them, and he used fear, coercion, and control to force them into a form of modern-day slavery. We are grateful to the jury for their time and attention to this difficult case, and to our trial team and investigative partners for their terrific work in pursuit of justice for the victims in this case.”

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Cornell Devore Rhymes, 32, conspired with others, including but not limited to Justin Robinson and Markus Plummer, who have been previously convicted, to forcibly sex traffic young women during the Summer of 2017. The jury found that Rhymes used tactics such as non-consensual sex, cocaine and violence to keep these and other young women prostituting for their benefit.

Rhymes was convicted of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, and sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion. Prior to trial, Rhymes pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. Rhymes faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison when sentenced on Feb. 15, 2019. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Nancy McNamara, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Colonel Edwin C. Roessler Jr., Fairfax County Chief of Police, and Barry M. Barnard, Chief of Prince William County Police, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton accepted the verdict. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Whitney Dougherty Russell and Raizza Ty are prosecuting the case.

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 is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:18-cr-22 (Rhymes), and 1:17-cr-310 (Robinson and Plummer).

Human Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Joshua Stueve Director of Communications
Updated November 15, 2018