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Press Release

Federal Indictment Charges Two Washington, DC Residents with Sex Trafficking of a Minor

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland

Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal grand jury indicted Charleston Harris, a/k/a “Giovanni,” and “Leon Baye,”, age 36, and Phoebe Omwega, a/k/a “Star,” and “Sparkles,” age 27 both of Washington, D.C. on charges of conspiracy, sex trafficking of a minor, and attempted sex trafficking of a minor. The indictment was returned on October 19, 2015 and unsealed today upon the arrests of the defendants.

The indictment was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Kevin Perkins of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Chief Mark A. Magaw of the Prince George’s County Police Department.

According to the three count indictment, from October 2012 through June 2015, Harris and Omwega conspired to recruit minor females and adult females, to engage in commercial sex acts.  Harris and Omwega benefited financially from the proceeds generated by prostitution, including prostitution services provided minor females.

The indictment alleges that Harris and Omwega created and posted advertisements on Internet websites that advertised adult females and minor females, for prostitution using fake names, false ages, and pictures of females different from the actual females being advertised. Harris and Omwega facilitated prostitution by directing and managing multiple adult females and minor females to engage in prostitution and collected prostitution proceeds directly from the females.  Harris allegedly used violence and threats of violence to coerce adult females and minor females into complying with Harris’s directions and rules, including that the females could not contact family members or other individuals outside Harris’s organization. The indictment alleges that Harris physically assaulted a minor female victim in December 2012 for violating his rules.

According to the indictment, Harris and Omwega arranged and paid for hotel rooms in which adult females and minor females, engaged in prostitution and transported the females, including minor females, to hotels and other locations in Maryland, Florida, and the District of Columbia to engage in prostitution.  Between 2013 and 2014, Harris used email accounts to recruit, direct, and communicate with females working for him.  On June 15, 2015, Harris attempted to recruit a minor female to work for him as a prostitute.

Harris and Omwega each face a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years and up to life in prison for conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of a minor; and a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and up to life in prison for sex trafficking of a minor.  Harris also faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and up to life in prison for attempted sex trafficking of a minor.  An initial appearance was held for Harris and Omwega today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jillyn K. Schulze in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt.  Omwega and Harris were detained pending detention hearings scheduled for October 23, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. and October 26, 2015 at 2:00 p.m., respectively.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt.  An individual charged by indictment is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at some later criminal proceedings.

The case was 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

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI and Prince George’s County Police Department for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel C. Gardner, who is prosecuting the case.

Updated November 30, 2015

Human Trafficking