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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Superseding Indictment Filed Against Scranton Man In Sex And Drug Trafficking Case

SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that a federal grand jury returned a second superseding indictment on October 31, 2017, against Mark Cook, age 39, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, charging him with an additional count of sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion.


According to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, the second superseding indictment alleges that Cook, who used the street name of “Lucky,” used force or coercion in connection with an additional victim of sex trafficking during December 2015 through January 2016.


The second superseding indictment also contains the original charges of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force and coercion, four other counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, a count of attempted sex trafficking by force, fraud, and coercion, possession with intent to distribute heroin, “molly,” and cocaine, conspiracy to distribute cocaine, attempted witness tampering, and wire fraud.


According to the second superseding indictment, Cook used a website to post advertisements for prostitution, rented hotel rooms in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and elsewhere for prostitution purposes, and used intimidation, threats, physical assaults, and illegal drugs to further the prostitution business.


The charges against Cook resulted from an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pennsylvania State Police, and Scranton Police.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Francis P. Sempa and Jenny S. Roberts are prosecuting the case.


The sex trafficking offenses each carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a potential maximum sentence of life in prison. The drug charges and attempted witness tampering charge each carry a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. The wire fraud charge carries a potential maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, and the attempted witness tampering count carries a potential maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.


Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.


A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.


Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant's educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.



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Drug Trafficking
Updated November 1, 2017