Two Hammond Men Sentenced in Sex Trafficking and Prostitution Case
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 07, 2010|
HAMMOND, IN—The United States Attorney's Office announced that Justin Phillip Cephus, and Jovan Demont Stewart were sentenced by Senior Judge Rudy Lozano after being found guilty at trial in November, 2009, of sex trafficking and prostitution charges.
Justin Cephus, 33, of Hammond, Indiana, was sentenced to life in prison, specifically; 60 months on count 1 of the indictment (conspiracy), 120 months on each of counts 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20 and 21 (transporting women for purposes of prostitution) to run concurrent to one another and to count 1, and life sentences on each of counts 2, 3, 6, 8, 10, 12, 16 and 18 (transporting minors across state lines for purposes of prostitution and using force, fraud or coercion to get adult women to engage in prostitution). Jovan Demont Stewart, 31, of Hammond, Indiana, was sentenced to life in prison, specifically; 60 months on count 1 (conspiracy), 120 months on counts 7, 9, 11, 13, 20, and 21 (transporting women for purposes of prostitution) to run concurrent to one another and to count 1, and life sentences on each of counts 3, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 18. Two other defendants in this case were previously sentenced. Haneef Jackson- Bey was sentenced to 180 months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to sex trafficking of children and aiding and abetting; and Delbert Patterson was sentenced to 57 months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to conspiring with his co-defendants to commit sex trafficking and prostitution crimes .
According to the superseding indictment, which details the defendants’ conspiracy, from approximately February 2006 until January 2009, the defendants, led by Justin Cephus, ran a prostitution business out of his home and various other locations in and around Hammond, Indiana. The business, which advertised in the Yellow Pages in Illinois and Indiana under the names “Beauty Escorts," "Beautyful Entertainment,” and “The Finest and the Best,” provided sexual services to callers from northwest Indiana and the Chicago, Illinois area. The defendants used a variety of tactics to recruit girls and keep them working for the business, including handing out business cards to pretty girls at retail outlets and telling them that the business involved “promotions,” “modeling,” “house cleaning,” “private dancing,” or “massage therapy.” The defendants also disclosed to girls that a popular music artist is the brother of defendant Patterson and that if they worked for the co-conspirators, they might get to meet the artist and possibly appear in his music videos. The indictment lays out other methods used to keep girls going on calls, including the use of various forms of physical force, various kinds of fraud, and the use of coercion.
This case is the result of an investigation by the Chicago Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, South Resident Agency with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Merrillville Resident Agency. Also instrumental in the investigation have been the Hammond Police Department, the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Vice Unit, the Sauk Village Police Department, and the Steger Police Department.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jill Trumbull Harris and Philip Benson.