Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that a federal jury today found LAVELLOUS PURCELL, a/k/a “King Casino,” a/k/a “Mike Hill,” guilty of sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion, and related offenses. PURCELL was convicted following a one-week jury trial before U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “Lavellous Purcell, a/k/a ‘King Casino,’ was a pimp with a notoriously brutal set of rules he used to keep his victims under his control. Besides physical violence and intimidation, Purcell forced the women to dress and act in certain ways, and forced them to brand themselves with a tattoo of his alias, ‘Casino,’ on their necks. Purcell even boasted about his reprehensible abuse of women on social media. Now, Purcell has himself been branded as a felon by a unanimous jury, and faces life in federal prison. We hope today’s verdict brings at least some small measure of comfort to the victims of Purcell’s unconscionable crimes.”
According to the allegations contained in the Indictment and evidence presented during the trial in Manhattan federal court:
From at least in or about 2012 to in or about 2017, LAVELLOUS PURCELL, a/k/a “King Casino,” a/k/a “Mike Hill,” the defendant engaged in the sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of numerous women across the country, including in New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. The defendant recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, obtained, and maintained women for the purposes of commercial sex, and he used violent force, threats of force, coercion, intimidation, and fear to force at least one woman to engage in commercial sex for his own profit. For example, the defendant strangled and choked certain of his victims, he hit and threatened to hit certain of his victims, and he kidnapped certain of his victims.
The victims of the defendant’s prostitution business were required to follow a strict set of rules, which the defendant enforced through threats, fear, intimidation, and violence. The defendant’s rules required his victims to: make the defendant money through prostitution, give the defendant all money earned from any commercial sex acts, call the defendant “Daddy,” not speak to men other than the defendant, not look at any men other than the defendant, not talk back to the defendant, not disrespect the defendant, not have boyfriends, not wear sneakers or loose-fitting clothing, and brand themselves with a tattoo bearing the defendant’s alias, “Casino,” on their necks.
The defendant recruited women to engage in commercial sex through social media websites, and he used Backpage.com, an online classifieds website, to post advertisements for commercial sex. The defendant also booked various rental cars and hotel rooms to transport women across state lines to engage in commercial sex. Meanwhile, the defendant boasted about the violence he used against women and his prostitution of women through social media posts, phone, text, and online communications, and in person.
To date, law enforcement agents have identified numerous women who have engaged in commercial sex at the defendant’s direction.
* * *
LAVELLOUS PURCELL, a/k/a “King Casino,” a/k/a “Mike Hill,” 40, of Hempstead, New York, was convicted of one count of sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion, one count of enticement to engage in prostitution, one count of transporting individuals in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution, one count of using interstate commerce to promote prostitution, and one count of conspiring to use interstate facilities to promote prostitution. The defendant faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment, as well as maximum potential sentences that are prescribed by Congress and provided below for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.
Any individuals who believe they have information that may be relevant to the investigation should contact the FBI at 1-212-384-1000 or https://tips.fbi.gov/.
Mr. Berman thanked the FBI and NYPD for their outstanding investigative work in this matter. Mr. Berman also thanked the New York County District Attorney’s Office for its assistance with this investigation.
This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorney Sheb Swett, Jane Kim, and Margaret Graham are in charge of the prosecution.