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Press Release

Nevada man admits role in Billings commercial sex investigation

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

BILLINGS — A Nevada man accused in an investigation into commercial sex activity in Billings admitted today to transporting a person with the intent to engage in prostitution, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.

Cecil Jerome Hatchett, 32, of Las Vegas, Nevada, pleaded guilty to a superseding information charging him with transportation of a person with intent to engage in prostitution. Hatchett faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,00 fine and three years of supervised release. If accepted by the court, a plea agreement reached by the parties calls for Hatchett to serve a sentence of not less than five years of imprisonment.

U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters presided. The court will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. Sentencing was set for May 4. Hatchett was detained pending further proceedings.

In court documents, the government alleged that on April 21, 2021, law enforcement responded to a call concerning possible commercial sex activity at the Quality Inn in Billings. Officers knocked on the door of the suspect room and announced themselves. Co-defendant Ashley Stella, another female identified as Jane Doe 1, a minor, and co-defendant Mark Jay Albrecht emerged. In interviews with law enforcement, Jane Doe 1 indicated she had met Stella in December 2020 and that Stella informed her that she worked in commercial sex.  Jane Doe 1 told law enforcement that the two traveled from Nevada and elsewhere to Montana in April 2021. Once in Montana, both Stella and Jane Doe 1 engaged in commercial sex.  Stella told law enforcement that she had met Jane Doe 1 in the fall of 2020 and learned of her true age later that year. Stella said the two had traveled from Nevada to Montana for the purpose of commercial sex and had asked Jane Doe 1 if she wanted to go on this trip with her. Investigators searched electronic media belonging to Stella and Jane Doe 1 and found numerous messages between Hackett and Stella. The communications included discussions about the upcoming commercial sex appointments of Stella and Jane Doe 1. In addition, law enforcement discovered a rental car from Reno, Nevada, from April 2021 in Hackett’s name and determined it was the same car that Stella and Jane Doe 1 drove to Montana for commercial sex. In April 2021, prostitution was illegal in Montana.

Stella, of Reno, Nevada, was sentenced to eight years in prison for conviction of transportation of a minor to engage in prostitution. Albrecht, of Gillette, Wyoming, pleaded guilty on Jan. 4 to prostitution near military and navy establishments, a misdemeanor, and is pending sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zeno B. Baucus and Bryan T. Dake are prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the FBI, Montana Division of Criminal Investigation, Billings Police Department, the Reno, Nevada, Police Department and IRS.

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Contact

Clair Johnson Howard

Public Affairs Officer

406-247-4623

Updated January 6, 2023

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Release Number: 23-12