For Immediate Release - March 28, 2013

Dorchester Man, Plymouth Woman Indicted in Connection with Running Human Trafficking, Prostitution Operation in Greater Boston Area

BOSTON – A Dorchester man and a Plymouth woman have been indicted in connection with running a human trafficking and prostitution operation in the Greater Boston area, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

Michael Leoney, age 49, was indicted today by a Suffolk County Grand Jury on the charges of Trafficking of Persons for Sexual Servitude, Conspiracy to Traffic Persons for Sexual Servitude, and Deriving Support from Prostitution. Crystal Emerson, age 29, was indicted on one count of Conspiracy to Traffic Persons for Sexual Servitude.

“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,” said AG Coakley. “This investigation is part of our continuing effort to target human traffickers who exploit others for their own profit.” 

“These indictments send a clear message to those individuals who look to engage in these types of illegal activities,” Boston Police Commissioner Ed 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.”

The AG’s Office began an investigation last year after the matter was referred by the Boston Police Department Human Trafficking Unit. The joint investigation determined that Leoney allegedly ran the operation, coordinated the recruitment of women into prostitution, and managed the financial aspects of the organization. Leoney allegedly advertised sexual services on websites known to advertise prostitution and arranged for these encounters either at the homes of “johns” or at hotels in the Greater Boston area. According to investigators, Leoney typically received the full profits from these sexual encounters.

Further investigation revealed that Emerson assisted in the daily operations, including training the women recruited by Leoney, purchasing advertisements to promote sexual services, and setting up hotel reservations for sexual encounters.

In December 2012, State Police officers assigned to the AG’s Office and officers from the Boston Police Department executed search warrants at Leoney’s residence and on cars registered to Leoney. Following the execution of the search warrants, Leoney was arrested and arraigned in Dorchester District Court. Leoney and Emerson were indicted today by a Suffolk County Grand Jury. They are due to be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court at a later date.

These charges are allegations and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Deb Bercovitch, who handles human trafficking prosecutions within the AG’s Enterprise and Major Crimes Division, with assistance from Senior Investigator Mark Pulli of AG Coakley’s Financial Investigations Division. Victim Witness Advocate Nikki Antonnucci of the AG’s Victim Services Division is also assisting in the case. The investigation was conducted by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General’s Office, investigators from AG Coakley’s Computer Forensics Lab, and investigators from The Boston Police Department.

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