Leader of New Jersey prostitution ring sentenced to 10 years

April 7, 2014 6:22:10 PM PDT
A man who pleaded guilty to running a high-priced prostitution ring has been sentenced to 10 years in prison in one of the first cases brought under New Jersey's new human trafficking law.

Percival Williams of Edison was sentenced Monday under a law that took effect in July 2013. He won't be eligible for parole for at least five years.

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

"Williams lured vulnerable young women with promises of a glamorous life, only to trap them in a hell of prostitution, beatings and fear," said acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman.

Prosecutors said he 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.

He would beat the women and threaten their family members if the women didn't earn enough, prosecutors said, forcing them to charge high hourly rates for sex acts, typically $500 to $1,000, and then turn all proceeds over to him.

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 drove her to New Jersey against her will, prosecutors said.

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