Tennessee Highway Patrol Arrest Leads to Federal Indictment
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 11, 2012|
GREENEVILLE, TN—Alexandra Nicole Berte, 20, of Midway Park, North Carolina, was indicted on October 10, 2012, by a federal grand jury sitting in Greeneville, Tennessee, for sex trafficking crimes. The two-count indictment on file with the U.S. District Court in Greeneville also includes a forfeiture allegation for property seized by law enforcement that was used in the commission of these crimes. Berte was detained pending trial in U.S. District Court, for which a date has not yet been set.
If convicted, Berte faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and three years’ supervised release for the charge of transporting individuals in interstate commerce for prostitution. Additionally, on the charge of inducing travel to engage in prostitution, if found guilty, Berte faces up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and five years’ supervised release.
This indictment stemmed from an investigation conducted by state troopers assigned to the Tennessee Highway Patrol’s (THP) Special Investigations Bureau and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Investigators with THP Bureau’s Interdiction Plus, Criminal Investigations Division, and Identity Crimes Unit assisted in the investigation.
A vehicle driven by Berte and occupied by four adult females, bearing North Carolina plates, was stopped for speeding by THP Trooper Jonathan Scott, a member of the THP’s East Bureau Interdiction Plus Team, on Interstate 40 in Cocke County on September 25, 2012. After conversing with Berte, Trooper Scott conducted a validation check on her driver license and discovered she was listed as a missing person. Further investigation revealed that the vehicle was an overdue rental and was not authorized to travel to Tennessee. Additionally none of the occupants were approved as drivers. After noticing several other suspicious indicators, investigators gained consent to search the vehicle.
During the search Trooper Scott and Trooper Robert Greer, also of the agency’s Interdiction Plus team, found a small amount of marijuana on the floor board and over 30 pre-paid Visa gift cards. They then requested the assistance of Sergeant Joseph Walker and Trooper Kevin Kimbrough of the THP’s Criminal Investigations Division (CID) and Identity Crimes Unit, respectively.
Sergeant Walker and Trooper Kimbrough interviewed the occupants and determined that they were involved in an apparent human sex trafficking scheme. Berte was initially arrested on misdemeanor charges, while her three female occupants, ages 19, 27, and 29 were released.
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment constitutes only charges and that every person is presumed innocent until their guilt has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.