Tate And Merritt Indictment Sex Trafficking Charges
BATON ROUGE, LA - United States Attorney Walt Green announced today that a Federal Grand Jury returned an indictment last week against JEREMIE J. TATE, of Zachary, Louisiana, and ROXANNE R. MERRITT, of Greenwell Springs, Louisiana, on sex trafficking charges, including conspiring to use interstate facilities in aid of racketeering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, using interstate facilities in aid of racketeering, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1952, and enticing another to travel interstate for prostitution, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2422(a).
TATE and MERRITT are both in custody. TATE was apprehended last Friday night by the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Task Force and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Houston, Texas. TATE is expected to have an initial appearance today in the Southern District of Texas before being transferred to the Middle District of Louisiana for prosecution.
The indictment alleges that, from in or about November 2012 through in or about November 2013, TATE and MERRITT conspired together and with others to use interstate facilities, such as telephones and the internet, to promote and manage TATE’s prostitution business which involved multiple prostitutes, including a minor female. The indictment alleges further that TATE enticed a prostitute who worked for him to travel from Baton Rouge to Las Vegas to engage in prostitution. As part of his prostitution business, TATE allegedly used intimidation and manipulation to ensure that he received most of the proceeds earned by his prostitutes.
If convicted, TATE faces up to 50 years imprisonment, a $1,250,000 fine, forfeiture of the proceeds from his crimes and facilitating property, restitution, and up to 5 years of supervised release following a term of imprisonment. If convicted, MERRITT faces up to 15 years imprisonment, a $750,000 fine, restitution, and up to 3 years of supervised release following a term of imprisonment. TATE and MERRITT are currently in federal custody following their arrest.
U.S. Attorney Green stated: “Sex trafficking is one of the highest priorities of this office and the entire U.S. Department of Justice. We will continue to aggressively pursue such matters, along with our dedicated federal, state, and local partners and the Human Trafficking Task Force for the Middle District of Louisiana.”
This investigation is being conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, and the Louisiana State Police, with assistance from the East Baton Rouge Sherriff’s Office, Baton Rouge Police Department – Narcotics, the U.S. Marshal’s Office and other law enforcement agencies. The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Reginald E. Jones.
NOTE: An Indictment is a determination by a grand jury that probable cause exists to believe that offenses have been committed by a defendant. The defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty at trial.