03/29: Men in Prostitution Ring Convicted

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Subject: 03/29: Men in Prostitution Ring Convicted
From: PJS (penelopes@earthlink.net)
Date: Tue Apr 04 2000 - 09:26:09 EDT

      Men in Prostitution Ring Convicted

      .c The Associated Press

      ST. LOUIS - Six men have been convicted of operating a juvenile
      prostitution ring that prosecutors said stretched across nearly half
      the country and a Canadian province.

      The members of the so-called Evans family were found guilty Tuesday
      of all 45 counts listed on a grand jury indictment. Police said the
      verdict ended the largest federal prosecution of a juvenile
      prostitution ring in U.S. history.

      ``It's been three years, and I am happy,'' said Maryland Heights
      Police Sgt. Joe Delia, whose department stumbled onto the ring during
      a 1997 traffic stop in the St. Louis suburb.

      Authorities said that organizers for 17 years had recruited girls
      mostly between 14 and 18 years old, mostly from Minnesota and
      Wisconsin, and employed them under fake names in escort services and
      massage parlors nationwide.

      The six men were each convicted on several counts of interstate
      prostitution, conspiracy and money laundering. They face maximum
      sentences ranging from 45 to 125 years in prison.

      The jury ordered them to forfeit property, including $1 million in
      cash, four homes in the Minneapolis area and five luxury automobiles.

      U.S. District Judge Jean Hamilton scheduled sentencing for June 16.

      Fifteen people were originally indicted by a federal grand jury in
      connection with running the ring, which police and prosecutors said
      included more than 50 women and girls in 24 states and Canada.

      Twelve of the indicted are members of the Evans family, all from the
      Minneapolis area. Six Evans family members and three family
      acquaintances pleaded guilty to federal charges earlier this year.

      Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard Marcus called Tuesday's verdict a
      victory for the women who worked as prostitutes. He compared life
      with the Evans family to slavery.

      The women and girls, some as young as 13, testified they were beaten
      if they violated a strict set of rules and had guns held to their
      head. In one case, a witness testified that a member of the family
      forced her into an automobile trunk and said he was taking her to a
      place where he planned to kill her.

      ``Whatever verbal and physical abuse it took to keep them, they did
      that,'' Marcus said. ``It's hard to think that a 14- or 15-year-old
      girl could resist that.''

      Defense attorneys said they were troubled by the jury's decision.
      Steven V. Stenger, who represented Monroe Evans, said testimony
      showed the women worked voluntarily for the Evans family.

      AP-NY-03-29-00 0620EST

      Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.

Penelope Saunders

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