Skip to main content
Press Release

California man sentenced to five years in prison for assisting in the transportation a person to Billings for prostitution

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

BILLINGS  — A California man who was convicted in a commercial sex investigation in which a woman brought a minor girl to Billings to engage in prostitution was sentenced today to five years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Cecil Jerome Hatchett, 32, of Carmichael, California, pleaded guilty in January to transportation of a person with intent to engage in prostitution.  

Co-defendant, Ashley Stella, of Reno, Nevada, was sentenced previously to eight years in prison for transportation of a minor to engage in prostitution.

U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided.

In court documents, the government alleged that Hatchett arranged and aided the transportation of Stella and a minor girl, identified as Jane Doe, to travel to Montana and elsewhere to engage in commercial sex. In April 2021, law enforcement responded to a call by Quality Inn staff in Billings about possible commercial sex activity. Upon arrival, officers found  an individual emerging from the motel room while buttoning up his shirt and Stella and Jane Doe in the room. Law enforcement interviewed all three individuals and determined that the individual had responded to an ad in setting up the meeting and that Stella and the individual had corresponded about the potential sex encounter before he arrived in the room. Stella later admitted that when law enforcement arrived, she was in the midst of a commercial sex encounter.

The government further alleged that these events triggered a federal investigation into allegations of sex trafficking.  Investigators found electronic messages between Hatchett and Stella discussing commercial sex appointments, including those that involved Jane Doe. Hatchett also had rented the car that Stella and Jane Doe used to travel to Montana.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zeno B. Baucus and Bryan T. Dake prosecuted the case. The FBI, Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, Billings Police Department, Reno, Nevada., Police Department and IRS conducted the investigation.



Clair Johnson Howard

Public Affairs Officer


Updated May 4, 2023

Press Release Number: 23-136