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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 12, 2017

Columbus 'Pimp' Sentenced for Trafficking Women

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Lerenzo M. White, aka “Justice” and “Justin,” 31, of Columbus, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 180 months in prison and release supervision for life for sex trafficking women through force, fraud or coercion.

 

Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and members of the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, including Steve Francis, Special Agent in Charge, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs and Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin announced the sentence handed down today by U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley.

 

White pleaded guilty in May to one count of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion.

 

According to the Statement of Facts in this case, undercover officers conducted a prostitution sting operation at a Crowne Plaza Hotel in Columbus on June 4, 2014. While conducting the operation, officers observed White drop off two females at the hotel for the purpose of exchanging sexual acts for money.

 

In August of 2015, one of the females made a report of domestic violence against White to the Columbus Division of Police. She stated she had worked for White since the spring of 2014 and was beaten and choked on the few occasions she had indicated she did not want to engage in prostitution. White frequently beat her for other reasons, she was fearful of White, and White maintained all the money that she made.

 

White used Backpage.com to create prostitution advertisements of the victim. Further investigation of his activity on the website confirmed numerous other adult females had worked as prostitutes for White.

 

Three of those females stated White had been physically violent towards them. An additional female stated she stayed with White and worked for him for several months because she was addicted to heroin and White provided her with the drug; however, White would not permit her to obtain any heroin until she had made a certain “quota” through prostitution activities.

 

“White forced women to engage in prostitution through physical force or controlling them with drugs,” U.S. Attorney Glassman said. “He controlled where they lived, where they went, and their contact with the outside world. If one escaped, he would find another to victimize. We must remember that adult women can be victims, too, and bring to justice abusers like White, who exploit victims for their own gain.”

 

“HSI has a vast investigative portfolio of crimes, but the trafficking of women is among the most sinister and must be met with swift action by law enforcement,” said Special Agent in Charge Steve Francis. “HSI along with our partners will continue to aggressively investigate cases such as these to identify and rescue its innocent victims.”

 

“This case proves just how serious state, federal, and local authorities are about putting a stop to human trafficking in Ohio,” said Attorney General DeWine. “The investigation found that this defendant forced women into the sex trade against their will.  This is modern day slavery, and those who commit this heinous crime will be held accountable.”

 

U.S. Attorney Glassman by the Central Ohio Human Trafficking Task Force, which is part of the Ohio Attorney General’s Ohio Organized Crime Investigations Commission, and includes authorities from U.S. Homeland Security Investigations, Columbus Division of Police, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office, the Delaware County Prosecutor's Office, the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office and Powel Police Department, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Heather A. Hill and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer M. Rausch, Director of the Franklin County Special Victims Unit, who are prosecuting the case.

 

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Topic(s): 
Human Trafficking
Component(s): 
Contact: 
jennifer.thornton@usdoj.gov
Updated October 12, 2017