Three Lexington County Defendants Sentenced in Federal Court for Labor Trafficking and Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting
Contact Person: Bill Watkins (864) 282-2100
Columbia, South Carolina ----- Acting United States Attorney Beth Drake stated today that Brandon L. Littlejohn, age 27, John A. Gossett, III, age 23, Dylan L. Patterson, age 20, D’Shawn C. Pitts, age 20, and Michael Riddle, age 20, all of Spartanburg, were sentenced today in federal court in Greenville, for involvement in a conspiracy to traffic in minor females for the purposes of prostitution in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1594(c). United States District Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks, of Greenville, sentenced Littlejohn to 121 months, Gossett to 87 months, Patterson to 77 months, and Pitts and Riddle to 60 months.
Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that the defendants recruited minor victims (ages 16-17) and young women to work for them. They then instructed and supervised the minor victims and young women on how to solicit and charge for commercial sex acts. One some occasions the women were hit or threatened with violence to persuade them to continue to work for the conspiracy.
The conspiracy operated in Spartanburg, South Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina, Virginia, and other cities in the Southeastern states. In these locations, the Defendants obtained hotel rooms for the women to work from. Defendants placed advertisements, or assisted in the placing of advertisements, on the internet using backpage.com to advertise the young women for commercial sex acts.
Once a John answered the ad and arranged to meet the minor females or young women at the hotel, Defendants would wait in an adjoining hotel room until the John arrived, paid the money, and completed the sex act with the minor female or young girl. Once the John left the room, Defendants would enter and retrieve the money.
“Human traffickers strip victims of their humanity; treating them as little more than pieces of meat to generate cash,” said Special Agent in Charge Nick S. Annan of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Atlanta. “The depravity of the subjects in this particular case reaches its lowest form by forcing underage girls into this dark underworld of abuse and victimization; the public should breathe a sigh of relief that these dangerous criminals are now safely behind bars.”
If you have information on human trafficking, please contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) at 1-888-3737-888. The NHTRC is a national, toll-free hotline.
The case was investigated by agents with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, and the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office. The case was assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Bill Watkins of the Greenville office for prosecution.