YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A pimp who with his prostitute girlfriend swiped $500,000 worth of diamonds from a john at Manhattan’s Cosmopolitan Hotel pleaded guilty to human trafficking today — one of the first in New Jersey under the statute.
Percival R. Williams — also known as Tayvann Dunston — admitted using violence and threats of violence to enslave women in a high-priced prostitution ring, after pretending to be a music producer while tooling around in high-performance Maseratis and a Porsche, state authorities charged.
State prosecutors, in turn, said they would recommend a prison sentence of 10 years for conspiracy and promoting prostitution.
Williams’ girlfriend, 24-year-old Chanell “Asha” Vaughn, also pleaded guilty today. State authorities said they would recommend probation.
Vaughn is to be sentenced on April 2 and Williams five days later.
“Williams used deception, violence and fear to strip vulnerable young women of their freedom and enslave them in a life of prostitution,” Acting state Attorney General John Hoffman said this afternoon. “This guilty plea will keep him behind bars, where he cannot harm any more women.”
Williams, 36, of Edison, and Vaughn were arrested by federal agents a year ago this month following an investigation by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and Edison police.
Using the street names “Knowledge” and “Don Cholo,” Williams found young women in various locations, including the Cleveland area, according to a state indictment returned in November. He impressed many of them with high-performance cars, including two Maseratis and a Porsche, and posed as a music producer, authorities said.
He then brought them to New Jersey, either against their will or by enticing them with promises of a relationship or better life, in order to enslave them in prostitution, it says.
Williams followed a familiar pattern for sex-related human trafficking, in which vulnerable victims are degraded, threatened and isolated from any support in their lives, the indictment says. He kept the women at his house or in nearby hotels and solicited clients by placing “sexually suggestive ads” on Backpage.com , it adds.
Williams also took or sent the women to various hotels in Manhattan, Las Vegas and Atlantic City to solicit clients, while demanding that they charge $500 to $1,000 a hour “and turn all proceeds over to him,” authorities said.
They complied because they believed Williams would hurt them or their families if they didn’t, the indictment alleges.
In one case, authorities said, he abducted a woman from Cleveland, unsuccessfully tried persuading her to move to New York with him, then laced her drink with a narcotic, drove her to New Jersey after she passed out and tried to force her to work as a prostitute.
The indictment says Vaughn stole the uncut diamonds on April 17, 2012 from a man’s room at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Manhattan, where she solicited him as a client for prostitution, then conspired with Williams to traffic them to New Jersey.
According to Hoffman:
“Deputy Attorney General Russell J. Curley presented the case to the state grand jury. The investigation was conducted and coordinated for the Division of Criminal Justice by Deputy Attorney General Curley, Lt. Lisa Shea, Sgt. Keith Stopko, and Detectives Naike Kudlick, Eric Barnes, Noelle Holl, Terry Shaw and Shawn Gorlin.
“They worked cooperatively with members of the Edison Police Department Special Operations Group, including Sgt. Michael Mintchwarner, Sgt. Frank Todd, Detective Michael Carullo, Detective Brian Maurath and Detective Jeff Abrams.
“The New Jersey State Police TEAMS Unit provided valuable assistance in the execution of warrants,” Hoffman said.
He also thanked the U.S. Marshals Service “for their dedicated efforts to successfully apprehend Williams.”
NOTE: The New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force operates a hotline for people to confidentially report suspected human trafficking: 1-855-END-NJ-HT (1-855-363-6548 ). It is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by detectives in the Human Trafficking Unit in the Division of Criminal Justice.
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