Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pimps sentenced to prison after guilty pleas in prostitution ring in West Seattle

(Original Post 10-11-09)

Twenty-one year old Gerald Jackson was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison in a Seattle courtroom by King County Superior Court Judge Helen Halpert on Friday. Jackson's sentence was enhanced because he is a member of the West Side Street Mobb gang. Jackson was accused of pimping three women, collecting all on the money they earned. Jackson described how he forced one of the women to prostitute herself.

King County prosecutors filed charges against six men thought to be members of or affiliated with the West Seattle gang following a joint investigation by the King County Sheriff's Office and Seattle police. Jackson and four others have pleaded guilty to prostitution-related offenses so far; the sixth, 19-year-old Deshawn Cash Money Clark, is currently facing a jury.

"Although she started doing it voluntarily, I used threats to keep her working for me. I expected her to turn over her earning to me. I have hit her hard enough to cause bruises."

"I am determined to leave prison a better human being," he also said.

Absent from his statement, at least in Halpert's expressed view, was any understanding of or remorse for the damage done to the women who prostituted themselves for him.

Speaking to Jackson, the judge said she did not hear him take responsibility for his actions. Still, in an unusual move, Halpert issued a sentence six months shorter than the one prosecutors and Jackson's attorney had agreed on as part of the plea agreement; asked to explain her reasoning by Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sean O'Donnell, Halpert said she was persuaded by Jackson's short criminal record.

Another defendant, 21 year old Desmond Manango, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for promoting prostitution. His sentence was shorter than Jackson's because he was not involved with a gang.

Clark's trial will continue on Tuesday.

(Update 10-18-09) Another defendant has been sentenced in the case. 20 year old Thomas Foster plead guilty to two counts of first-degree promoting prostitution, conspiracy to commit the same crime and second-degree assault. On Friday, October 16, King County Superior Court Judge Helen Halpert sentenced Foster to 5 1/2 years, 6 months longer than the recommended sentence by both the prosecution and defense.

The charges came from Foster's coercion of his baby's mama into prostitution. Foster threatened to leave the victim if she did not make money, and "when she did make money, I would take all of from her. I did not care if she might get hurt (working on the street). I just wanted to make money." The 2nd degree assault charge stems from an incident in West Seattle where Foster choked and tried to choke his victim.

(Update 12-29-09) Shawn Clark, DeShawn's brother, was sentenced to 9 years in prison on December 11 by King County Superior Court Judge Helen Halpert for 9 criminal counts including violating a protective order, promoting prostitution, witness tampering and criminal conspiracy. Shawn pled guilty to these charges in August, and his brother faces 20 years for his part in the prostitution ring. DeShawn Clark is the 1st person in Washington State to be convicted of human trafficking and faces 20 years in prison when he is sentenced next month.

(Update 1-27-10) DeShawn Clark was sentenced to 17 years in prison last Friday. The prosecution's case rested on the testimony of three girls Clark lured into prostitution, including the prosecution's star witness, a 19 year old girl.

Having fallen out of touch, Clark and the teen began dating during the summer of 2007. That relationship quickly took a violent turn, prosecutors contended, and the teen was soon on her way to Las Vegas with Clark to work as a prostitute.

After pimping the teen in Las Vegas, Clark returned with her to Washington and continued to pimp her there. All the while, prosecutors alleged, Clark assaulted her and threatened to do worse to keep her working for him.

When it became clear to Clark and others in the gang that the young woman intended to testify, prosecutors claim they began to harass her in the hope that she'd be scared away from court. The girl was shot with a pellet gun, greeted by two of Clark's associates at a confidential shelter, and chased into the truck of a Seattle police detective, who proceeded to arrest one of her pursuers.

The victim explained to police that she continued working for Clark because "if I do or don't say anything, they're gonna get me, gonna hurt me. It doesn't matter what I do. They're gonna do what they're gonna do to me, so I might as well do what's right."

After this victim escaped, a second victim, a 15 year old girl that Clark "dated" was forced to "walk the track." According to King County Prosecutor Sean O'Donnell, "If [Clark]felt that she was taking breaks unnecessarily, he yelled at her to get back out on the track and make him some money.At the end of each day, he returned to pick her up and took the money she had earned." Clark also beat the girl along with other associates from the West Side Mobb.

One admitted pimp and Street Mobb member, Mycah Johnson, described learning how to manipulate and intimidate young women from Clark. "'Cash' showed me how to be a pimp," Johnson wrote the court. "He would tell me where I should have (her) work and would explain how to use Craigslist to post her ads. He told me how to manage (her), specifically with respect to the money she earned -- I was to keep all of it."

The sentencing judge was King County Superior Court Judge Douglass North.

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