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Press Release

Salem Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Sex Trafficking

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

Roanoke, VIRGINIA – A Salem man, who believed he was enticing a 15-year-old female to engage in prostitution while actually communicating online with an undercover Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy, pleaded guilty this week in U.S. District Court in Roanoke to a federal sex-trafficking charge.  United States Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle made the announcement.

Shawn Paul Paisley, 48, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty this week to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. At sentencing, Paisley faces a possible statutory maximum sentence of up to life in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000. The defendant also faces a mandatory minimum term of supervised release of 5 years and a maximum term of life. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for May 25, 2018.

In August of 2016, while posing as a 15-year-old female, a Franklin County Sheriff’s Deputy responded to a Craigslist advertisement posted by Paisley seeking a “personal/casual” encounter. Paisley gave the “female minor” a cell phone number and the two exchanged text messages. During the course of their text message exchanges, Paisley told the “female minor” that he ran an escort service and that his girls made good money. Paisley provided standard prices for the services the escorts offered and the two arranged to meet in order for the “female minor” to perform oral sex on Paisley.

Paisley left his home in Salem, Virginia and drove to Franklin County, Virginia to meet the “minor female.” When Paisley arrived in Franklin County, he was arrested.

Paisley admitted that he helped run an escort service, which involved recruiting females to engage in sex for pay.  He helped arrange for encounters between recruited female prostitutes and the customers and took a portion of the fees paid for making the arrangements. Paisley recalls that at least two females he previously helped recruit were 17-years-old.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.  Assistant United States Attorneys Laura Day Rottenborn and Matthew Miller are prosecuting the case for the United States.


Updated March 7, 2018