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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Florida

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Former Staff Mentor at Florida Keys Children’s Shelter Sentenced to 380 Months’ Imprisonment for Child Sex Trafficking

A former staff mentor at the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter, a residential facility in Tavernier, Florida, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Marcia G. Cooke to 380 months’ imprisonment, following his conviction for child sex trafficking.

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.

Following a three-week jury trial beginning on October 19, 2015, Ricky Jermaine Atkins, 29, of Key Largo, was convicted of conspiracy to engage in the sex trafficking of minors, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1594(c), as well as two counts of sex trafficking of a minor, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1591(a)(1).  The Court sentenced Atkins to concurrent terms of 380 months’ imprisonment as to each count, to be followed by a lifetime term of supervised release.

Atkins’ co-defendant, Sandra Simon, 24, of Homestead, previously pled guilty to one count of sex trafficking of a minor, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1591(a)(1).  On November 20, 2015, Simon was sentenced to 136 months’ imprisonment.

According to evidence presented at trial, Atkins worked overnight shifts as a staff mentor at the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter, a residential facility in Tavernier for minor children.  Atkins obtained two of the children living at the shelter, girls aged fifteen and sixteen, to be brought from Tavernier to a hotel in Cutler Bay, where Simon supervised their prostitution.  On the night of August 15, 2014, Atkins personally transported the minor victims from Tavernier to Cutler Bay, where he left them with Simon.  Earlier on that day, Simon had pled guilty in state court to procuring a minor for prostitution, and had received a sentence of probation.

Evidence presented at trial further established that Atkins subsequently collected money earned from the minor victims’ prostitution, and delivered to Simon a cellular phone and other items intended to facilitate the prostitution of the minor victims.  Further evidence admitted at trial established that Atkins simultaneously prostituted an 18-year-old woman whom Atkins had met while the woman was a minor child living at the shelter.

Mr. Ferrer thanked the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force, the State Attorney’s Office Human Trafficking Task Force, the Monroe County Sherriff’s Office and the North Port Police Department for their work on this case.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Seth M. Schlessinger and Elina A. Rubin-Smith.

Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

Topic: 
Project Safe Childhood
Updated February 17, 2016