Virginia Woman Pleads Guilty in Federal Court to Sex Trafficking A Sixteen Year Old Girl
Baltimore, Maryland – Heather Wagoner, age 31, of Buchanan, Virginia, pleaded guilty today to a sex trafficking conspiracy involving a sixteen year old girl.
The guilty plea was announced by Acting United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Stephen M. Schenning; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Chief Edward G. Hargis of the Frederick City Police Department.
According to her plea agreement, Wagoner and a co-conspirator conspired to engage in sex trafficking of a minor who was 16 years old at the time. From October 15, 2014 through December 19, 2014, Wagoner and her co-conspirator used the internet to solicit individuals for prostitution in Maryland. Wagoner instructed the victim to engage in sexual acts and provided condoms.
For two weeks in December 2014, the victim resided with Wagoner at various hotels in West Virginia and Maryland. Wagoner received calls from customers inquiring about the victim, and then relayed the information to her co-conspirator who facilitated the victim’s “date” with the customers. Wagoner and the victim would split the proceeds from the dates, and Wagoner would use some of her proceeds to pay her co-conspirator for driving the victim.
On December 19, 2014, detectives, acting in an undercover capacity, contacted the phone number provided on the website for the victim and spoke with Wagoner. The detectives arranged a meeting at a hotel in Frederick, Maryland, where investigators subsequently identified the victim as a minor and arrested the co-conspirator.
On the same day, investigator’s obtained a search warrant for the co-conspirator’s phone, which indicated numerous communications between the co-conspirator and Wagoner regarding sex trafficking of the victim. After police seized the co-conspirator’s phone, Wagoner continued to text the co-conspirator regarding the conspiracy to sex traffic the victim. Investigators arrested Wagoner on July 1, 2016.
Wagoner and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea agreement Wagoner will be sentenced to eight years in prison, followed by a lifetime of supervised release. U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander has scheduled sentencing for July 20, 2017, at 10:00 a.m.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorneys' Offices and the Criminal Division's Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who sexually exploit children, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc. For more information about internet safety education, please visit www.justice.gov/psc and click on the "resources" tab on the left of the page.
Acting United States Attorney Stephen M. Schenning commended the FBI and Frederick City Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Schenning thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron S.J. Zelinsky, who is prosecuting the case.