Witness Tampering Lands Convicted Sex Trafficker More Prison Time
HOUSTON – A Houston man, already convicted and sentenced in a large domestic sex trafficking case, has been handed additional federal prison time for witness tampering, United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced today.
Andre McDaniels, 43, was convicted along with five others in Operation Total Exposure, the largest domestic sex trafficking case prosecuted in the Southern District of Texas. In that case, McDaniels pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, coercion and enticement and two counts of transportation and later sentenced to a total of 96 months in federal prison. On Sept. 25, 2012, he pleaded guilty to witness tampering in relation to that case.
Today, U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal handed McDaniels a sentence of 78 months, which will be served consecutively to his previous sentences for a total of 174 months confinement. At the hearing, additional evidence was presented including that McDaniels attempted to have an individual pay witnesses to alter their testimony and to gather personal information about federal agents and prosecutors. In handing down the sentence, Judge Rosenthal noted that the offense committed by McDaniels was an attempt to compromise the integrity of the judicial system and the sentence should reflect the seriousness of that conduct.
McDaniels and the others were charged and later convicted of operating commercialized sex businesses often disguised as legitimate businesses and recruited women and minors as young as 16 to work as prostitutes and perform commercial sex acts. The women were routinely beaten and threatened to instill fear in them and insure their obedience. Some of the co-conspirators also had sexual intercourse with the minor females. Any proceeds the women received as a result of their sexual encounters where taken by the members of the enterprise, rendering them dependent upon the defendants for basic necessities.
On or about Jan. 6, 2012, McDaniels met with an undercover agent from the FBI posing as a private investigator. McDaniels intentionally and knowingly solicited the agent to tamper with, coerce and intimidate fact witnesses whom the government anticipated on calling to testify in regards to the sex trafficking case. Specifically, McDaniels instructed the agent to pay money to witnesses in an effort to influence their testimony or possibly make them unavailable to testify.
If witnesses would not accept these payments, McDaniels instructed the agent to conduct surveillance on the witnesses in order to record and gather compromising personal information that could be used to influence their testimony. Further, McDaniels also instructed the agent to conduct investigations into the personal lives of law enforcement agents and federal prosecutors.
McDaniels has been and will remain in custody.
The tampering was investigated by the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Craig M. Feazel and John D. Jocher. Assistant United States Attorney Sherri Zack prosecuted McDaniels on the sex trafficking charges.