You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 13, 2020

Beltsville Man Convicted After Federal Jury Trial for Narcotics Distribution and Sex Trafficking Conspiracies and Related Charges

Also Convicted of Witness Tampering

Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal jury has convicted Kenneth Wayne Hart, a/k/a Redds, Wayne Hawkins, Hawk, Big Daddy, Billy Reds, and Bill Red Hart, age 58, of Beltsville, Maryland, on federal charges of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute narcotics; a sex trafficking conspiracy; sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion; and witness tampering.  The verdict was returned late on March 12, 2020.

The conviction was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Timothy Jones of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Baltimore Field Division; Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Chief Henry P. Stawinski III of the Prince George’s County Police Department.

According to the evidence presented at his seven-day trial, beginning in December 2016 and continuing until April 2017, Hart conspired to distribute narcotics and with a co-conspirator ran a prostitution business using force, threats, fraud, and coercion to cause women to engage in commercial sex acts.  The evidence proved that Hart recruited women to engage in commercial sex acts in Maryland and Washington, D.C.  Hart transported, photographed, and advertised the victims for commercial sex on websites set up for that purpose.  According to trial testimony, Hart also supplied the victims with heroin and crack cocaine on a daily basis and threatened to withhold—and did withhold—the narcotics if the victims displayed any sign of disobedience or tried to leave the locations where the commercial sex acts occurred.  According to trial evidence, in order to maintain control over the women he recruited to prostitute, Hart demanded that the women surrender to him their personal belongings, including identification cards, credit cards, cash, clothing, and cellular phones, and confiscated their earnings from the commercial sex acts.  Hart also used physical force, threatened physical force, and verbally abused the victims to force them to engage in prostitution against their will.

The jury also found that the evidence proved that Hart used physical force and threatened physical force to prevent an individual from communicating to a law enforcement officer information related to the commission or possible commission of a federal offense.

Hart faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for the drug distribution conspiracy; a maximum of life in federal prison for the sex trafficking conspiracy; a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison and a maximum of life in prison for each of two counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion; and up to 30 years in federal prison witness tampering.  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.  U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte has scheduled sentencing for July 8, 2020 at 9:30 a.m.

The sex trafficking charges were investigated by the FBI-led Maryland Child Exploitation Task Force (MCETF), created in 2010 to combat child prostitution, with members from10 state and federal law enforcement agencies.  The Task Force coordinates with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Maryland State Police Child Recovery Unit to identify missing children being advertised online for prostitution. 

MCETF partners with 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.

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the ATF, FBI, and the Prince George’s County Police Department for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jennifer R. Sykes and Daniel C. Gardner, who are prosecuting the case.

# # #

Topic(s): 
Human Trafficking
Drug Trafficking
Opioids
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Marcia Murphy (410) 209-4854
Updated March 13, 2020