Palm Beach County Resident Convicted of Conspiracy to Commit Sex Trafficking of a Minor
On July 13, 2018, a federal jury in West Palm Beach, Florida, convicted Charles Edward Smith of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor.
Benjamin G. Greenberg, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Robert F. Lasky, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, and Sarah J. Mooney, Chief of Police, West Palm Beach Police Department (WPBPD), made the announcement.
On or about March 13, 2018, members of the WPBPD discovered a 14-year old minor, identified as a missing person, in a West Palm Beach residence controlled by Smith. The defendant and other co-conspirators, including Michael Joseph Clark, operated a prostitution operation out of the residence. Smith had the minor work as a prostitute, setting up her sexual encounters, giving her drugs and requiring her to use her prostitution earnings to stay at the house.
Smith was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1591 and 594. The defendant was acquitted of the charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Smith’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for September 20, 2018, before United States District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks. Smith faces a maximum statutory sentence of life in prison on the charge of conviction.
On June 20, 2018, co-defendant Clark pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children and two substantive counts of sex trafficking of children. Clark is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Middlebrooks on August 27, 2018. Clark faces a mandatory minimum statutory sentence of ten years in prison and maximum sentence of life.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by United States 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, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.
Mr. Greenberg commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the WPBPD. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lothrop Morris and Ellen Cohen.