Two Men Sentenced to 18 and 19 Year Prison Terms for Conspiracy to Commit Sex Trafficking of a Minor
On September 20, 2018, Palm Beach County resident Charles Edward Smith, 63, was sentenced to 235 months in prison by United States District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks following his jury trial conviction for participating in a conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor (Case No. 18-CR-80062). Co-defendant Michael Joseph Clark, 44, was sentenced to 220 months in prison by Judge Middlebrooks, after he previously pled guilty to participating in the conspiracy and committing substantive sex trafficking of a minor offenses.
Ariana Fajardo Orshan, 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.
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.
Mrs. Fajardo Orshan commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the WPBPD in this matter. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lothrop Morris and Ellen Cohen.