Three years ago inside Orange County’s Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse, Eric Lamar Wells pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of two minor prostitutes, ages 14 and 17, in exchange for a reduced punishment of 10 years in prison, but the inmate isn’t happy.
This month, the 28-year-old Wells filed a handwritten lawsuit alleging officials at the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) are violating his constitutional rights by blocking his efforts to qualify for a one year sentence reduction.
According to a prison document, BOP determined in May that the pimp does not meet eligibility requirements for early release, claiming he “presents a serious potential risk” of future violence and his conduct with the minors constituted “sexual abuse offenses.”
Wells believes he’s being cheated because of three main points: the girls he met on the side of the Boulder Highway in Las Vegas in 2012 told him they were 18 years old; he never inflicted violence or issued threats; and he merely drove them from motel to motel in Nevada, Arizona and near Disneyland in Anaheim while his wife, Tonisha Alecia Moore, also a prostitute, created online sex ads for the girls, coached them on technique and collected their daily incomes.
“I did not know they were minors,” he wrote. “Nor did I participate in or direct the underlying criminal activity . . . I never did anything violent towards the girls. They made their own decisions and came and went as they pleased . . . I did not commit a crime that by it’s nature involves sexual abuse offenses committed upon the minors and the BOP was wrong to preclude me because of this.”
U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney has ordered federal officials to respond to the complaint by July 27.
Meanwhile, Wells remains locked inside the Federal Correctional Institution, a medium security facility at Oxford, Wisconsin. If his current punishment remains effective, he won’t be freed until Jan. 31, 2021.
Moore, now 26, is serving her 70-month punishment at a prison in Alameda County.
R. Scott Moxley’s award-winning investigative journalism has touched nerves for two decades. An angry congressman threatened to break Moxley’s knee caps. A dirty sheriff promised his critical reporting was irrelevant and then landed in prison. The U.S. House of Representatives debated his work. Federal prosecutors credited his stories for the arrest of a doctor who sold fake medicine to dying patients. Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.