Washington, D.C. Man Sentenced to 10 Years in Federal Prison and Ordered to Pay Restitution of More Than $20,000 to the Minor Victim He Sex Trafficked for His Prostitution Business
Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar sentenced Gerald Lee Banks, age 40, of Baltimore, today to 12 years in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion. Judge Bredar also ordered that upon his release from prison Banks will also be required to register as a sex offender in the place where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Andre Watson of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department.
According to Banks’ plea agreement, from September through May 2013, Banks conspired with Travis Lamont Foote, a/k/a “Cash,” to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion.
For example, in September 2012, Jane Doe 1, an 18 year old woman living in Florida, had dropped out of high school and was trying to get back into school or find employment. Foote contacted Jane Doe 1 on Facebook, using a female online identity he created, “Cash Treasure,” and told Jane Doe 1 that “she” knew someone who would be able to assist her. Foote then reached out to Jane Doe 1, as a friend of “Cash Treasure,” and lured her to Baltimore stating that he could help Jane Doe 1 to get back into high school and get a diploma. After Jane Doe 1 agreed, Foote paid for an airline ticket for Jane Doe 1 to fly from Florida to Baltimore sometime in September.
Banks and Foote met Jane Doe 1 at the airport and drove her to a motel in Catonsville, where they had rented four rooms, three of which were occupied by other females. It was then that Jane Doe 1 learned that Banks and Foote were running a prostitution business and that they expected Jane Doe 1 to work for them. At first Jane Doe 1 refused, but eventually she began having sex with men for money, with all of the proceeds going to Banks and Foote.
During this time of the conspiracy, Banks and Foote used internet websites to advertise the women who worked for them, including Jane Doe 1, as available for prostitution. All of the proceeds were paid to Banks and Foote. On November 14, 2012, an undercover detective from the Baltimore County Police Department Vice Unit scheduled a “date” with one of the prostitutes advertised by Banks and Foote. The undercover detective met the woman at the agreed upon time and place and she was arrested. Jane Doe 1 was also arrested and officers located and attempted to arrest Foote but he struggled and ran away.
On May 16, 2013, a Baltimore County Police officer conducted a traffic stop of a vehicle being operated by Banks, with Foote and an 18 year old female, Jane Doe 2, as passengers in the car. Banks, Foote and Jane Doe 2 were arrested when officers recovered a plastic bag containing 16 smaller bags of crack cocaine. Jane Doe 2 was listed in police records as a possible runaway and investigation showed that Jane Doe 2 began working as a prostitute for Banks and Foote in April 2013. As a result of internet advertisements placed by Banks and Foote, Jane Doe 2 had approximately 100 “dates” with men to engage in commercial sex acts and all of the proceeds were paid to Banks. Jane Doe 2 told law enforcement that earlier in May 2013, Foote beat and choked her when she tried to leave the motel after refusing a request from one of the men. Banks stopped Foote from choking her, but was aware that Foote physically forced Jane Doe 2 back to the hotel room.
Shortly after his arrest on May 16, 2013, Banks made bail and was released. Banks did not attend further court proceedings and an arrest warrant was issued in October 2013. On January 9, 2014, federal charges were filed against Banks, who evaded authorities until his arrest in October 2014. Banks has been detained since his arrest.
Travis Lamont Foote, a/k/a “Cash,” age 31, of Baltimore, previously pleaded guilty to his role in the sex trafficking conspiracy and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
This case was investigated by the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, formed in 2007 to discover and rescue victims of human trafficking while identifying and prosecuting offenders. Members include federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as victim service providers and local community members. For more information about the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, please visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/md/priorities_human.html.
Report suspected instances of human trafficking to HSI's tip line at 866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423) or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended HSI Baltimore and the Baltimore County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Judson T. Mihok, who prosecuted the case.