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Press Release

Erie Man Pleads Guilty to Sex Trafficking Two Minor Victims

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

ERIE, Pa. - A former resident of Erie, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of sex trafficking of a child and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.

Thomas Patrick Petoff, 31, pleaded guilty to two counts before United States District Judge David S. Cercone.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that from March 2015 to October 2015, Petoff and a co-defendant, Devonte Lucas, knowingly recruited, enticed, harbored, transported, provided, advertised and maintained two minor victims who engaged in commercial sex acts at the behest of Petoff and Lucas. Petoff’s illegal activity was ultimately stopped when members of the Millcreek Police Department observed Lucas transport a minor female to a Millcreek motel after the Millcreek officers, acting in an undercover capacity, had set up a meeting at the motel with the victim via an Internet advertisement that had been placed by Petoff.

Judge Cercone scheduled sentencing for April 8, 2019 at 3:00 p.m.. The law provides for a total sentence of life in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant. As part of his plea, Petoff has agreed to a sentence of fourteen years in jail to be followed by ten years of supervised release.

Assistant United States Attorney Christian A. Trabold is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Millcreek Police Department conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Petoff.

Updated November 20, 2018

Human Trafficking
Project Safe Childhood