Former Alabama Department of Corrections Lieutenant Pleads Guilty to Federal Civil Rights and Obstruction Offenses for Assaulting a Restrained Inmate and Lying to Cover It Up
Georgia Woman Sentenced to 25 Years for Sex Trafficking Minors
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – A federal judge this week sentenced a Georgia woman for sex trafficking of minors, announced United States Attorney Prim F. Escalona and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Carlton L. Peeples.
U.S. District Judge Madeline H. Haikala sentenced Marlette Laishell Smith aka “Lala,” 29, of Rome, Georgia, to 300 months in prison followed by 20 years of supervised release. On March 23, 2023, Smith pleaded guilty to two counts of Sex Trafficking of a Minor and two counts of Transportation of a Minor with Intent to Engage in Criminal Sexual Activity.
According to court documents, Smith recruited two minor females (15 and 16 years of age) into prostitution for her own financial gain. The minor victims were stranded in Memphis, Tennessee, and were trying to get back home to California. Smith met them on a stairwell at the Motel 6 in Memphis – the minor victims were hungry, had no money, no place to stay, no mode of transportation, only the clothes on their back, and an uncharged cell phone. Smith told them that she would help them get back home if they would go with her to Alabama and make $200 each. Smith drove the minors to Georgia then to Alabama where she sexually trafficked them.
“The commercial sexual exploitation of children causes long-lasting harms to child victims and the entire community,” said U.S. Attorney Escalona. “The fight to prevent and disrupt exploitation would be impossible without the support of our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners. We are especially grateful for the work of FBI Birmingham in apprehending the defendant in this case.”
“This sentence sends a strong message to those who prey on minors and abuse their trust. The victims, who found themselves in a vulnerable state entrusted this person for assistance in returning home. The FBI is dedicated to ensuring the safety and security of the victims and reuniting them with their families,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Carlton L. Peeples. “I am proud of the diligent work of FBI Birmingham’s Child Exploitation Human Trafficking Task Force, the Homewood Police Department, and other law enforcement partners who assisted in bringing this individual to justice.”
The FBI Birmingham’s Child Exploitation Human Trafficking Task Force (CEHTTF) investigated the case along with the Homewood Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys R. Leann White and Darius Greene prosecuted the case.
The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched by the Department of Justice in May 2006 to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, and to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.