Federal Judge Sentences Charlotte Man to More Than 18 Years in Prison for Sex Trafficking of a Minor
CHARLOTTE, NC—Late on Tuesday, October 28, 2014, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr. sentenced Juan Brandon Gray-Sommerville, 25, of Charlotte, to 225 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for sex trafficking of a minor, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. A federal jury convicted the defendant of one count of sex trafficking of a minor in August 2013.
John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division and Chief Rodney D. Monroe, of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) join U.S. Attorney Tompkins in making today’s announcement.
According to filed court documents and testimony presented during the two-day trial, the minor female met Gray-Sommerville through social media in early March 2012. Shortly thereafter, the defendant began exchanging text messages with the minor, encouraging her to meet him. According to court records, on March 13, 2012, Gray-Sommerville and his girlfriend travelled to a town outside of Charlotte to pick up the minor in front of her school. There, he enticed to come to Charlotte with him by showing her a large sum of money and marijuana. According to trial testimony, the three of them drove back to Charlotte and checked into a motel. Trial testimony established that the defendant created an online advertisement on Backpage.com to recruit clients to engage in sex acts with the minor. Court records indicate that the defendant drove the minor to have sex for money with two clients. According to court documents and witness testimony, law enforcement located the minor when they responded her 9-1-1 call, after Gray-Sommerville abandoned her fearing police detection. Court records indicate that during the investigation, an FBI computer forensic examiner found on Gray-Sommerville’s computer the picture of the minor the defendant posted on Backpage.com. Investigators also recovered text messages the defendant had exchanged with the minor using his cell phone.
At sentencing, Judge Conrad considered an incident that occurred several months before the defendant picked up the minor victim at her school. Testimony regarding this incident was presented at trial. During that incident, law enforcement officers and agents encountered the defendant at a local hotel when he dropped off another minor so that she could prostitute there.
In announcing his sentence, Judge Conrad said that Gray-Sommerville was a pimp whose actions were callous. The judge also found that the Gray-Sommerville knowingly testified falsely at trial and that credible evidence presented at trial showed that the defendant knew early on in his involvement with the victim that she was a minor.
Gray-Sommerville has been in local federal custody since April 2013. He will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
The investigation of the case was handled by the FBI and was assisted by CMPD and Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”). Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimlani Ford, of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Charlotte, prosecuted the case.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.