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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Jury Convicts Rochester Man Of Sex Trafficking Minors And Adults

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051

ROCHESTER, N.Y.—Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr., announced today that a federal jury convicted Stephen Jones, 30, of Rochester, NY, of conspiring to recruit underage girls to commit commercial sex acts, and sex trafficking of minors and adults by force, fraud or coercion. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison and a maximum of life.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Melissa M. Marangola and Craig R. Gestring, who together handled the trial of the case, stated that between 2011 and June 2014, the defendant conspired with others, including Kasandra Weeks and Christian Nartey, to target and manipulate seven minor victims and two adult victims, many of whom were at-risk and vulnerable, to engage in prostitution activities. While some victims were located through social media accounts, Jones went to the Department of Social Services or women shelters and waited until girls appearing young in age came outside.  Victims were promised quick money and drugs, and on other occasions, threatened with violence.

Jones and his co-conspirators posted daily advertisements using fake photos for the victims on backpage.com. One advertisement read: “ITS KRISTEN AND ASHLEY!! Ur 2 favorite young GODDESS up all day READY2play!! :-) CALL NOW!!  Victims were taken from the Rochester area to Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, Utica, and New Jersey in order to engage in prostitution activities and avoid detection by law enforcement. To keep control over the victims, Jones and the others kept the money victims earned from prostitution activities, as many as 10 clients a day, and limited the victims’ communications with family and friends.    

With his conviction, Jones joins Kasandra Weeks and Christian Nartey, who were previously convicted, as they await sentencing for their involvement in this sex trafficking ring.
                                                                                 
The verdict is the culmination of an investigation on the part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Child Exploitation Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Adam S. Cohen; Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, of under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly; and the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Ciminelli.

Sentencing for Jones is scheduled for December 5, 2017, at 3:00 p.m., before U.S. District Judge David G. Larimer who presided over the trial of the case.

Updated September 20, 2017