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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, February 12, 2018

Two Defendants Charged In Manhattan Federal Court With Sex Trafficking And Other Offenses

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced the arrests of LAVELLEOUS PURCELL, a/k/a “King Casino,” a/k/a “Mike Hill,” and GLORIA PALMER, a/k/a “Gloria Hearn.” PURCELL is charged with sex trafficking and related offenses.  PALMER is charged with conspiracy to use interstate commerce to promote PURCELL’s illegal sex trafficking activity.  PURCELL was presented Friday in Manhattan federal court before United States Magistrate Judge Stewart D. Aaron and detained.  PALMER was presented Friday in federal court in Rochester and released on bail.  The case has been assigned to United States District Judge Denise L. Cote. 

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said:  “As alleged, Lavelleous Purcell’s conduct was exploitive, forcing women to engage in sex for money, and keeping the money for himself.  Thanks to the FBI and NYPD, Purcell and his alleged accomplice, Gloria Palmer, are in custody.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “The subject in this case allegedly forced women to have sex for money.  Our FBI agents and law enforcement partner detectives won’t ever stop pursuing pimps who profit from using women not as human beings, but as objects and as a way to make money.  However, the practice isn’t going to ever go away unless the demand goes away.  We ask anyone with information about this case, or any other situation they suspect may be human trafficking, to call us.”

According to the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court,[1] and statements made in court during the defendants’ presentments:

For the past several years, PURCELL has worked as a sex trafficker and pimp under the alias “King Casino.”  From 2012 to 2016, PURCELL trafficked women, forcing them to engage in commercial sex, for which he was paid.  Since at least 2015, PURCELL has recruited women to travel in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution and has transported women across state lines to engage in prostitution.  PALMER used the facilities of interstate commerce to promote the prostitution business by booking hotel rooms for PURCELL and the women.

To date, law enforcement agents have identified over 50 women who appear to have engaged in commercial sex at PURCELL’s direction.

PALMER assisted in PURCELL’s sex trafficking business by, among other things, booking hotel rooms for PURCELL and the women he trafficked, for which PURCELL paid PALMER a monthly fee.

*                *                *

The charges in the Indictment against LAVELLEOUS PURCELL, 39, of Hempstead, New York, and GLORIA PALMER, 26, of Rochester, New York, are included in the chart below.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants 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 is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges and allegations contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth below constitute only allegations and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Press Release Number: 
18-046
Updated February 12, 2018