Marcus D. Washington of Knoxville, Tennessee, pleaded guilty today to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion; conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance; and possession with intent to distribute a Schedule II controlled substance.
According to documents submitted in connection with the plea, on Sept. 25, 2013, Washington arranged for a woman identified as K.C. to meet with a client at a hotel to perform commercial sex acts. Washington did not know that this client was actually an undercover law enforcement officer. Shortly thereafter, Washington was arrested outside of the hotel and found to be in possession of Oxycodone.
A subsequent investigation revealed that Washington and another person had recruited K.C. to engage in prostitution. Washington knew that K.C. was addicted to Oxycodone and that she feared withdrawal sickness. He withheld Oxycodone from K.C. until she engaged in commercial sex acts, and when K.C. objected to continuing to perform acts of prostitution, Washington used physical force and threats to compel her to continue.
“This defendant threatened, abused and forced a vulnerable woman to engage in prostitution,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “Human trafficking violates the law and threatens the most basic standards of human dignity and decency. No conviction can undo the harm he inflicted, but we hope this guilty plea provides a measure of relief and justice to the victim in this case.”
Washington faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, as well as up to a $250,000 fine. Sentencing has been set for March 27, 2017. As part of his plea agreement, Washington will pay restitution to two women identified as victims of his human trafficking offense.
This case was investigated by the FBI, and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys William Nolan, Rose E. Gibson and Nicholas Durham of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section, with the assistance and support of the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of Tennessee.