With his accuser ready to take the stand against him, a man who prostituted a teenage girl last year agreed instead to a plea deal that would send him to prison for 15 years.
Valerio Valentine Alexander, 45, pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to sex-trafficking a minor, a charge that carries a mandatory 10-year prison sentence.
His trial was scheduled to begin yesterday before U.S. District Court Judge Edmund A. Sargus, but Alexander agreed on Saturday to a plea bargain with a binding 15-year prison sentence. A second charge, conspiracy to sex-traffic a minor, was dropped.
“Prostitution of a juvenile is human trafficking as defined by federal law,” said Carter M. Stewart, U.S. attorney for the southern district of Ohio. “We will prosecute it aggressively.”
Alexander, of 1626 Genoa Place on the East Side, was indicted in April after a 16-year-old girl reported that he and a relative had forced her into prostitution.
That relative, Thomasina C. Howard, 38, of Elaine Road on the East Side, pleaded guilty in August; the details of her plea agreement were sealed. She had been indicted on the same charges as Alexander.
Court records say that, in February, Howard convinced the teenager to meet with Alexander after Alexander told Howard they could make “a lot of money” if the victim worked as a prostitute.
Alexander took sexually suggestive photos of the teen and of Howard and had advertisements about them placed on an online site, the records say.
He gave the girl a phone and had another woman teach her how to speak to clients. That afternoon, the victim had sex with a client at Alexander’s apartment, then left.
The victim reported what had happened to law enforcement.
The indictment against Alexander says he had a number of females working for him at an East Side apartment he used as a brothel. He took the money they made for sex and gave them illegal drugs.
Alexander has served four separate Ohio prison sentences and was released in September 2012 after serving 17 months for drug possession.
Howard is scheduled for sentencing by Sargus on Feb. 13. No sentencing date has been set for Alexander.
Tips about people involved in human trafficking can be relayed through the national toll-free hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or by texting “help” or “info” to BeFree.
By Kathy Lynn Gray - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
©2014 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)
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