A Suffolk grand jury indicted a Dorchester man and a Plymouth woman Thursday, alleging that the two ran a human trafficking and prostitution ring in the Boston area, prosecutors said.
Michael Leony, 50,was charged in Dorchester District Court in December with trafficking persons for sexual servitude and deriving support from prostitution, but the case was moved to Suffolk Superior Court Thursday, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office said.
Leony’s alleged accomplice, Crystal Emerson, 29, was charged for the first time with one count of conspiracy to traffick persons for sexual servitude, the statement said. The two will be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court at a later date.
“We allege this defendant, with assistance from another individual, exploited multiple women by transporting them to engage in commercial sex and arranging for their advertisements online and then kept the profits from this operation,” Coakley said in the statement. “This investigation is part of our continuing effort to target human traffickers who exploit others for their own profit.”
An investigation by Coakley’s office and Boston police last year alleged that Leoney ran the operation, coordinating the recruitment of women and finances, the statement from the attorney general said.
Emerson trained the women, set up advertisements online, and arranged for hotel rooms where the prostitution ring’s male clients would meet the women, the statement said.
Investigators, with the help of the victims, identified Leoney, as the leader of the prostitution and trafficking operation, according to the police report filed after Leoney’s arrest in December.
The unnamed women provided descriptions of Leoney and provided investigators with the prepaid phones Leoney gave them to make contact with their clients, according to a police report.
The victims told investigators that Leoney required them to give him all payments for sexual encounters and threatened them with physical violence, the report said.
Investigators were eventually able to build a case against Leoney by matching phone records with online advertisements offering sex for a fee and with surveillance of him driving women to meet clients, the report said.
“These indictments send a clear message to those individuals who look to engage in these types of illegal activities,” Boston Police Commissioner Edward F. Davis said. “Make no mistake; we will work with our law enforcement partners to find you and put you out of business and in jail.”Todd Feathers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ToddFeathers.