Former Staff Mentor at Florida Keys Children’s Shelter Convicted of Child Sex Trafficking
A former staff mentor at the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter, a residential facility in Tavernier, Florida, was convicted today of child sex trafficking, following a three-week jury trial before United States District Court Judge Marcia G. Cooke.
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, made the announcement.
Ricky Jermaine Atkins, 29, of Key Largo, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to engage in the sex trafficking of minors, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1594(c), and two counts of sex trafficking of minors, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1591(a)(1). Atkins is scheduled to be sentenced on January 27, 2016.
Atkins’ co-defendant, Sandra Simon, 24, of Homestead, previously pled guilty to one count of sex trafficking of a minor, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1591. Simon’s sentencing is scheduled for November 20, 2015.
According to evidence presented at trial, since 2011, Atkins worked overnight shifts as a staff mentor at the Florida Keys Children’s Shelter, a residential facility in Tavernier. While working as a staff mentor, Atkins arranged for two of the minor shelter residents, girls aged fifteen and sixteen, to be brought from Tavernier to a hotel in Cutler Bay, where Simon supervised their prostitution. On the night of August 15, 2014, Atkins personally transported the minor victims from Tavernier to an apartment in Homestead where he introduced the teenagers to several of his adult associates. Atkins arranged for one of the minors to have sex with three of the adults to prepare her for prostitution. Atkins then transported both minor victims to Cutler Bay, where he left them with Simon to be sold for sex. Text messages between Simon and Atkins revealed that, on the same day that the victims were trafficked, Simon had pled guilty in state court to procuring a minor for prostitution and had been sentenced to probation.
Evidence presented at trial further established that Atkins collected money earned from the minor victims’ acts of prostitution. Atkins also delivered to Simon a cellular phone and other items intended to facilitate the prostitution of the minor victims.
During the trial, testimony was presented that Atkins simultaneously prostituted an 18-year-old woman he had met while she was a minor child living at the shelter.
Atkins was originally arrested by state authorities in Monroe County on September 9, 2014, and charged with interference with the custody of a minor, before being released on bond. On December 9, 2014, a federal grand jury indicted Atkins on federal trafficking charges.
Mr. Ferrer thanked the FBI, City of Miami Police Department, Monroe County Sherriff’s Office, Sunny Isles Beach Police Department, North Port Police Department and Miami-Dade Police Department for their work on this case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Seth M. Schlessinger and Elina A. Rubin-Smith.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.