A man who picked up a 14-year-old girl off a Milwaukee street, took nude pictures of her, posted them on a website and then sold her body to men at a hotel was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison Friday.
Amani Booker, 35, admitted that he and another of his prostitutes, Holly Arnold, found the girl walking on W. North Ave. on May 21 and told her she could make a lot of money.
But his attorney, Brian Mullins, insisted his client didn’t know how old the girl was. Mullins also said the girl was already prostituting before meeting Arnold and Booker.
According to court documents, the three went to the Red Roof Inn on S. 13th St. in Oak Creek, where Booker gave the girl marijuana to smoke and then took pictures of her naked. He posted the photos on a local website.
Arnold and the girl then had sex together with at least two men. A day or so later, Oak Creek police discovered the girl during an investigation into escort services. The FBI and Milwaukee police, who handled the two other federal trafficking cases, also investigated the case.
Booker admitted to authorities that he had acted as a pimp for more than 10 years and his prostitutes could make him more than $1,000 a night, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Wall. Booker was just charged with the one incident involving the child prostitute in May.
Chief U.S. District Judge Charles Clevert said other men in Milwaukee who might do the same as Booker need to know what kind of prison time they, too, could face.
“They should know there is a cost, a tremendous cost that must be paid,” Clevert said. “You used and abused women and at least one child.”
The case is one of three federal child sex trafficking cases filed in Wisconsin in the past two years by the U.S. attorney’s office in Milwaukee. Earlier this month, Milwaukee County prosecutors won the first conviction for human trafficking in state court.
Wall called sex trafficking a “dirty, destructive business.”
“This business destroys the lives of the most vulnerable members of our community,” said Wall, who has prosecuted all the federal sex trafficking cases.
Booker, whose girlfriend spoke on his behalf Friday, said he had always looked for the easy way in life.
“I have hurt more than myself,” Booker said.
Sentencing guidelines called for 14 to 17 years in prison for Booker. His attorney asked for the minimum sentence: 10 years in prison.
Booker has a long criminal history, which goes back to age 17, according to Wall. In separate cases, Booker was convicted of wounding a man by shooting him in the head in 1995, dealing cocaine in 2004 and more recently attacking one of his prostitutes with a knife, Wall said.
On Thursday, Clevert sentenced Arnold, 25, to a year in prison.
In July, Clevert sentenced Todd “King Tut” Carter to 25 years in prison for conspiracy and child sex trafficking. Carter had admitted prostituting at least a half a dozen teenage girls in Wisconsin and other states.
His son, Nicholas Harrison, who also pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of children by force, was sentenced to six years in prison. He had cooperated with prosecutors in the case against his father.
The other federal case involves Derrick Avery, known nationally as “Pimp Snooky,” who is charged with operating a ruthless prostitution ring for more than a decade. The Milwaukee native, who came up in connection with the corruption investigation of former Milwaukee Ald. Michael McGee, was arrested in Las Vegas.
Avery has claimed that he has been an actor portraying “Pimp Snooky” but was never a real pimp.
The plight of those coerced into labor or sex trades was the focus of National Human Trafficking Awareness Day last week.
Earlier this month, prosecutors won the first conviction for human trafficking in state court. Jermaine Rogers was found guilty in Milwaukee County Circuit Court of 11 felonies, including sexual assault and human trafficking, related to his efforts to build a stable of prostitutes.
According to one complaint, he picked up a woman in his white Cadillac in October 2009 with the promise of a ride home. Instead, he took her to a different house, assaulted her and told her she would be working for him. The victim managed to call law enforcement later and was able to escape.
Another complaint charged that Rogers picked up a juvenile girl around 2005, sexually assaulted her in a house, made her work as a prostitute in Milwaukee and Chicago, and beat her up after she tried to run away.
Reporter Bruce Vielmetti contributed to this report