YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A state grand jury in Trenton today returned indictments charging an accused pimp with human trafficking and his prostitute girlfriend with swiping $500,000 worth of diamonds from a john at Manhattan’s Cosmopolitan Hotel.
Percival R. Williams and Chanell “Asha” Vaughn were arrested by federal agents in February following an investigation by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and Edison police.
Williams — also known as Tayvann Dunston — used violence and threats of violence to enslave women in a high-priced prostitution ring, after pretending to be a music producer while tooling around in high-performance Maseratis and a Porsche, state authorities charged.
Using the street names “Knowledge” and “Don Cholo,” Williams found young women in various locations, including the Cleveland area, the indictment returned today alleges.
He then brought them to New Jersey, either against their will or by enticing them with promises of a relationship or better life, in order to enslave them in prostitution, it says.
Williams followed a familiar pattern for sex-related human trafficking, in which vulnerable victims are degraded, threatened and isolated from any support in their lives, the indictment says. He kept the women at his house or in nearby hotels and solicited clients by placing “sexually suggestive ads” on Backpage.com, it adds.
Williams also took or sent the women to various hotels in Manhattan, Las Vegas and Atlantic City to solicit clients, while demanding that they charge $500 to $1,000 a hour “and turn all proceeds over to him,” authorities said.
They complied because they believed Williams would hurt them or their families if they didn’t, the indictment alleges.
In one case, authorities said, he abducted a woman from Cleveland, unsuccessfully tried persuading her to move to New York with him, then laced her drink with a narcotic, drove her to New Jersey after she passed out and tried to force her to work as a prostitute.
“Victims of human trafficking feel helpless to defend themselves,” Acting Attorney General John Hoffman said this afternoon, “so we are making it a priority in New Jersey to rescue them and bring traffickers like Williams to justice.”
Williams was being held on $1 million bail in the Middlesex County Jail, charged in the indictment with first-degree human trafficking, kidnapping and racketeering, among several other offenses.
Vaughn, meanwhile, remains free on $50,000 bail, charged with racketeering, conspiracy, receiving stolen property and promoting prostitution. The indictment says she stole the uncut diamonds on April 17, 2012 from a man’s room at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Manhattan, where she solicited him as a client for prostitution, then conspired with Williams to traffic them to New Jersey.
Arraignments on the indictment hadn’t yet been scheduled.
“Human trafficking is a crime that takes place in the shadows, but we are working hard to expose it,” said DCJ Director Elie Honig.
She urged anyone possibly victimized by Williams “to come forward confidentially and assist us in our ongoing investigation.”
The Division of Criminal Justice has a toll-free, confidential tipline 1-866-TIPS-4CJ for the public to report criminal activity. The public can also log on to the Division’s website at www.njdcj.org to report information confidentially.
The investigation was conducted and coordinated for the Division of Criminal Justice by Deputy Attorney General Russell Curley, Detective Naike Kudlick, Detective Eric Barnes, Detective Sgt. Keith Stopko, Detective Noelle Holl, Detective Sgt. Lisa Shea, Detective Terry Shaw and Detective Shawn Gorlin. They worked cooperatively with members of the Edison Police Department Special Operations Group, including Sgt. Michael Mintchwarner, Sgt. Frank Todd, Detective Michael Carullo, Detective Brian Maurath and Detective Jeff Abrams.
The New Jersey State Police TEAMS Unit provided valuable assistance in the execution of warrants, authorities said. Also participating was the U.S. Marshals Service, which arrested Williams in Dallas, Texas on Feb 26.
Vaughn was arrested at Williams’ home two days later.