Businessman Charged with Sex Trafficking a Minor
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Lewis Valenti, 41, a West Kingston, R.I., businessman with residences in Reading, Mass., and East Greenwich, R.I., made an initial appearance in U.S. District Court in Providence today on a criminal complaint charging him with conspiracy to transport a minor interstate for prostitution and transporting a minor interstate for prostitution.
U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond ordered Valenti released on $50,000 unsecured bond to home confinement at his Massachusetts residence, with electronic monitoring.
Earlier this month, Kedwin Vargas, 25, and Rene A. Laureano, 30, of Roxbury, Mass., were arrested and ordered detained in this matter. Vargas and Laureano are charged by way of federal criminal complaints with conspiracy to transport a minor interstate for prostitution and transporting a minor interstate for prostitution.
The charges against Valenti, Vargas and Laureano are announced by United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha, Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Boston Field Office of the FBI, and Colonel Steven G. O’Donnell, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police.
According to court documents, it is alleged that in March 2016, Lewis Valenti contacted Rhode Island State Police and alleged that Kedwin Vargas was attempting to extort him by threatening to provide a video and audio recording to his family which contained information regarding sexual encounters he allegedly had with a minor female in exchange for payment. An investigation by Rhode Island State Police and the FBI revealed numerous text messages and cell phone conversations between Vargas and others with Lewis, in which it is alleged that Vargas is identified as the person allegedly attempting to extort $10,000 in cash from Valenti.
According to court documents, the investigation revealed that more than a year ago, Vargas allegedly began posting ads on backpage.com offering a minor female for prostitution. It is alleged that on numerous occasions, Laureano, who was previously employed at Valenti’s agriculture business in West Kingston, R.I., would drive the female to meet with customers, including Valenti. It is alleged in court documents that Valenti admitted to investigators that he had sexual contact with the female on numerous occasions over the past two years at his East Greenwich apartment and at several local hotels.
A criminal complaint is merely an allegation and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney William J. Ferland.
The Warwick, R.I., and Boston Police Departments assisted the FBI and Rhode Island State Police in the investigation of this matter.
Jim Martin (401) 709-5357
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