Two Men, One Woman Charged with Luring Robbery Victims with Online Escort Ads
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that two men and a woman have been charged in federal court for their roles in a conspiracy to use online ads for escort services as a means to lure victims to hotel rooms in order to rob them.
Kenneth W. Sexson, 32, Sage E. Harrison, 34, and Nicole L. Covey, also known as Nicole Waguespack and Nicole Preston, 33, all of the Kansas City metropolitan area, were charged in a criminal complaint filed under seal in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, June 8, 2016. That complaint was unsealed and made public today at the initial court appearances of Sexson and Covey. Harrison remains at large.
Today’s federal criminal complaint alleges that Sexson, Harrison and Covey participated in a conspiracy to rob individuals by using several websites (including craigslist.org, backpage.com and skout.com) to make connections with their victims. They allegedly communicated through these websites to arrange meetings with their victims in order to rob them. In addition to the conspiracy, the complaint charges each of the defendants in one count of robbery affecting interstate commerce.
According to an affidavit filed in support of today’s complaint, Sexon, Harrison and Covey used social media services to post ads with Covey’s photo in order to lure victims into meeting in person. Once Covey began communicating with the victim, they would agree to meet at a hotel or apartment. When the victim arrived at the agreed upon location, Covey would excuse herself to the restroom or walk away as co-conspirators robbed the victim of money, phones and other items.
According to the affidavit, conspirators used handguns, or what appeared to be handguns. They allegedly sometimes assaulted their victims and one victim told investigators that his attackers took his vehicle and he escaped by jumping from the moving vehicle on the highway in fear for his life.
The affidavit cites a series of seven robberies that occurred in October 2015 in Kansas City, Mo.; Independence, Mo.; and North Kansas City, Mo. Investigators learned of a number of additional robberies disclosed during interviews, including two robberies in Blue Springs, Mo.
On May 27, 2016, Independence police officers received a report regarding a new robbery. The victim reported that he had responded to a Craigslist ad for a female escort. Upon arriving at the hotel room in Independence, the victim was instructed to leave the money on the nightstand. After he set the money down, the female excused herself to the bathroom, and the victim was confronted by three large white males. Investigators identified Sexson, Covey and others as suspects in that robbery.
Sexson and Covey were arrested in Kansas on June 7, 2016. According to the affidavit, Independence police officers responded to a witness’s report of shots being fired at her from another vehicle. They located a white U-Haul cargo van being driven by Sexson near Highway 291 and Truman Road. A pursuit was initiated, which reached speeds of more than 100 miles per hour. During the pursuit, police officers saw an unknown object get thrown from the vehicle. A handgun, a magazine and ammunition were recovered at this location. Officers also saw two long guns get thrown from the vehicle. Two shotguns were located and recovered in this area. The pursuit continued toward Leavenworth County, Kan. Tire deflation devices were deployed against the van multiple times. The pursuit ended only after the van became disabled as a result of the damage suffered during the pursuit. Sexson, Covey and two other individuals were arrested.
Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in this complaint are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew P. Wolesky. It was investigated by the FBI, the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the North Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the Independence, Mo., Police Department, and the Blue Springs, Mo., Police Department.