Orange County prosecutors have notched their first human-trafficking conviction under California's Proposition 35, the initiative voters overwhelmingly supported last November to increase the penalty for human trafficking, particularly in cases involving the trafficking of a minor by force.
Mark Wesley Anderson, 27, of Seattle, was sentenced to eight years in prison for his guilty pleas to felony charges of human trafficking and possession of Ecstasy with intent to sell.
Felony charges of pimping and pandering were dismissed Wednesday, according to court records.
Anderson's co-defendant Jaeleesa Jaemika Smith, 25, of Salem, Ore., pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pimp.
Jacqueline Goodman, Smith's attorney, told City News Service her client accepted a plea deal so she could get out of jail and reunite with her toddler daughter, who Anderson fathered.
As we previously reported, a 30-year-old woman who believed she was in a romantic relationship with Anderson traveled with him, Smith and another woman to Idaho in March for what she believed was a vacation. But once they got there, Anderson informed the 30-year-old they were short on money and she'd have to turn tricks to bring in some income.
The woman had previously told Anderson she would not work as a prostitute, but to drive home his point he was serious about her entering the business, he beat the other woman traveling with them with a wire hanger and then, according to prosecutors, handed over enforcement duties to Smith.
The case against Smith alleged she told the 30-year-old how much she must charge for various sex acts, denied her food and sleep if she did not return with enough money and forbid her from using the bathroom unless Anderson did first. Smith was also alleged to have hit the woman and taken and sold her food stamps as part of enforcing the rules.
Between March 25-27, the woman was brought by Smith and Anderson to Orange County, where she was forced to walk the streets. Anderson also posted personal ads for her services.
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She eventually managed to break away and call a relative, who contacted the Anaheim Police Department, which investigated and arrested Smith and Anderson on March 27. He was also holding Ecstasy for sale.
Without the guilty pleas, each were looking at up to 20 years in state prison with convictions. Smith was technically sentenced to four years in state prison, but it was suspended pending completion of three years of formal probation.
Explains a statement from the agency: "The Orange County District Attorney gave this defendant consideration based on the fact that Smith was emotionally manipulated by Anderson and was less criminally culpable in this case."