Columbus Man Pleads Guilty To Facilitating Prostitution, Gun Charge
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Carl R. Smith, Jr., 30, of Columbus, Ohio, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to transportation in interstate commerce for purposes of prostitution and possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon.
Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and members of the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, which is part of the Ohio Attorney General’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, including Marlon V. Miller, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs and Colonel Paul Pride of the Ohio State Highway Patrol announced the plea entered today before U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson.
According to court documents, during a traffic stop in July 2013 in which Smith was driving, law enforcement officers discovered an adult female passenger had a plastic baggie containing cocaine base and heroin. Based on information previously obtained through surveillance and confidential sources, it was believed that Smith was involved in directing the prostitution activities of the passenger and other females and that he had used the passenger during the traffic stop to conceal his supply of cocaine base and heroin.
Members of the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force and the Columbus Police Department conducted an investigation of Smith’s suspected criminal activities between July 2013 and February 2014. A search warrant was executed at Smith’s residence in February 2014. While searching the residence, officers discovered Smith, who had been previously convicted of four felony offenses, was carrying a pistol. Numerous additional firearms and narcotics were seized from Smith’s residence during the execution of the search warrant.
During the course of the investigation leading up to the execution of the search warrant, officers conducted electronic and physical surveillance of Smith’s activities. During this surveillance, officers observed that Smith frequented various hotels in the Columbus, Ohio area where he had prostitutes working for him. Continued surveillance revealed that Smith also facilitated travel out of state to Pittsburgh and New York City, where his prostitutes engaged in sexual activity for hire. Smith attracted clients/johns for his prostitution business by posting numerous advertisements in the escort section of the Internet site backpage.com.
Transportation in interstate commerce for purposes of prostitution is a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison and possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon who is an armed career criminal carries a maximum sentence of up to life in prison.U.S. Attorney Stewart commended the cooperative investigation by the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, as well as Assistant United States Attorneys Heather A. Hill and Salvador A. Dominguez, who are representing the United States in this case.