Las Vegas Sun

October 22, 2014

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Man sentenced under NJ human trafficking law

TRENTON, N.J. — A man who pleaded guilty to running a high-priced prostitution ring has been sentenced in one of the first cases brought under New Jersey's new human trafficking law.

Percival Williams of Edison was sentenced Monday in state Superior Court in Middlesex County. The case was brought under a human trafficking statute which took effect in July 2013.

The 36-year-old Edison resident pleaded guilty Feb. 10 to charges of conspiracy to commit human trafficking and promoting prostitution.

Williams admitted that he conspired with others to lure women to New Jersey and forced them into a life of prostitution by threats of violence. Williams kept the women at his house or in nearby hotels, and solicited clients for them by placing ads on the website Backpage.com or sending the women to solicit clients at hotels in Manhattan, Atlantic City and Las Vegas, according to Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman. Williams would beat the women and threaten their family members if the women didn't earn enough, Hoffman said. Williams forced them to charge high hourly rates for sex acts, typically $500 to $1,000 and turn all proceeds over to him, according to Hoffman.

"Williams lured vulnerable young women with promises of a glamorous life, only to trap them in a hell of prostitution, beatings and fear," Hoffman said. "We'll continue to use New Jersey's strong law against human trafficking to protect women and lock up traffickers like Williams."

Hoffman said one of the women Williams had forced into prostitution had been abducted from Cleveland. After Williams failed to persuade her to move to New York with him, he allegedly laced her drink with a narcotic that caused her to pass out. While she was unconscious, he allegedly drove her to New Jersey against her will, prosecutors said.

Williams' girlfriend, 24-year-old Chanell "Asha" Vaughn, also previously pleaded guilty in the case to charges of promoting prostitution. Prosecutors have said they will recommend she serve a sentence of probation.

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