Five people were indicted in federal court on human trafficking charges for their roles in conspiracies in which girls, then 14 and 16 years old, were forced into commercial sex acts, said Acting U.S. Attorney Carole S. Rendon, Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland Office, and Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin.
Named in the 15-count indictment are: Megan Hitt, 28; Lorenzo Young, 30, Randy Thompson, 26; Aundre Davis, 34, and Precious Russell, 19.
Two other people -- Shemeric Cook, 29, and Jacqueline Young, 53 -- face charges related to obstructing the investigation.
All the defendants are from Lima, Ohio, except for Hitt, who is from Fort Wayne, Indiana.
The charges include conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of a minor, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in prostitution, sex trafficking of a minor, obstruction of a sex trafficking investigation, conspiracy to obstruct a sex trafficking investigation and participation in a child exploitation enterprise.
One conspiracy involves Hitt, Young, Thompson and Davis, and took place between November 2015 and January 2016, in which the four conspired to cause girls, aged 14 and 16, to engage in commercial sex acts in Lima and Fort Wayne. They did this by taking and posting sexually explicit photos of the girls on backpage.com, transporting the girls, renting motel rooms for them and negotiating prices, according to the indictment.
Another conspiracy involves Thompson and Russell and took place in November and December 2015 when they caused the then-14-year-old girl to engage in commercial sex acts in Lima. Thompson would receive 50 percent of money paid by the girl’s customers, Russell would receive 25 percent of the money and the girl could keep the remaining 25 percent, according to the indictment.
“This indictment is yet another reminder that human trafficking is all around us,” Rendon said. “It flourishes in plain sight, on the internet and in the motels in our towns. The conduct these defendants engaged in is reprehensible, and they will now be held accountable.”
“These individuals violated the rights of some of our most vulnerable in our community - the children,” Anthony said. “The FBI will continue working with our law enforcement partners to aggressively pursue justice for human trafficking victims and to put their perpetrators behind bars."
“Human trafficking is a devastating crime that must be stopped. It victimizes people within every segment of society throughout our nation,” Martin said. “I want to thank the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office for their help in enforcing the law against those who will engage in human trafficking within the Lima community. We are grateful for the cooperative working relationship we have with them and the many other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies that are working together to make human trafficking a thing of the past. The Lima Police Department cannot accomplish this alone.”
If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the court after reviewing factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation. In all cases the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Toledo office and the Lima Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Alissa M. Sterling, and Daniel R. Hurley.
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Defendants are entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.