SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – A Sacramento man has pleaded guilty to three counts of sex-trafficking of underage girls, while two co-defendants face charges for posting photographs of the girls online as a way to attract customers, the U.S. attorney’s office said Friday.
U.S. attorney’s spokeswoman Lauren Horwood said 50-year-old Paul “Yoshi” Moore also had been charged with possession and production of child pornography.
Moore’s attorney, Thomas Johnson, said the child pornography charges were dismissed in the plea deal. Two of the sex-trafficking counts carry a maximum sentence of life in prison.
“We are happy with the resolution. We think it will eventually reach a sentence that is far less than the maximum exposure, and it was an opportunity for him to come in early and find a resolution that worked for him,” Johnson said.
Moore entered his pleas Friday before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Garcia and is scheduled to be sentenced in Sept. 23.
Prosecutors said the activity took place between December 2005 and February 2007.
Horwood says Moore’s co-defendants, Kevin Hawkins and Timothy Lee, are charged with taking photographs of three different minor girls and posting them on the Internet as advertisements for prostitution.
“It was a matter of putting up ads online for these girls. Underage girls, photographs — that’s where the child pornography comes in,” Horwood said.
Laurel White, the prosecutor in the case, said Lee is expected to plead guilty in Colorado next week. Hawkins’ attorney declined comment.
“Typically what we see in these investigations is posting of ads on the Internet websites depicting young girls who are advertising their services as prostitutes, advertising the opportunity to engage in commercial sex acts,” White said.
Neither White nor Horwood would say how old the girls were or how the defendants originally came into contact with them.
White said Moore agreed to forfeit the computers, cameras and other equipment he used, and that he acknowledged it had been used to promote and advance sex-trafficking.
The arrests were the result of an investigation by the FBI’s Innocence Lost Task Force, which targets child prostitution. Sacramento city police officers and Sacramento County sheriff’s detectives also are on the task force.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)