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Press Release

Gainesville Defendant Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Child Sex Trafficking

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

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA – Tawanda LaKaye Burkett, 40, was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for sex trafficking of a minor.  The sentence was announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.

At Burkett’s trial, which concluded on January 28, 2016, the government presented evidence that in August 2014, Burkett, Black, and Carter, all of Gainesville, Florida, were involved in a scheme to make money using a 15-year-old girl to perform sex acts.  The defendants posted the victim’s photo in an online advertisement on a website section for “escort services.”  The true purpose of the advertisement was to offer the victim for commercial sexual activity.  The defendants also provided the victim with a cellular telephone so that “clients” could contact her.  When the “clients” responded to the advertisements, Burkett, Black, and Carter transported the victim to private residences and hotels for sexual activity.  The defendants shared the proceeds of the victim’s commercial sex acts.

Codefendant Hal Bernard Black, 21, was sentenced on January 25, 2016, to 135 months in prison, and Codefendant Ranell Carter Jr., 25, is scheduled to be sentenced on July 25, 2016, at 3:30 p.m. at the United States Courthouse in Gainesville. 

This case resulted from investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Gainesville Police Department, and the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Frank Williams.

The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General.  To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website.  For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit

For more information, contact:
Amy Alexander, Public Information Officer
(850) 216-3854,

Updated June 17, 2016

Human Trafficking
Project Safe Childhood