Dorchester Man Indicted in Connection with Human Trafficking, Failing to Register as a Sex Offender
Defendant and Brother Allegedly Profited from Own Individual Schemes Exploiting Women, But Shared Business Practices
BOSTON – A Dorchester man has been indicted on charges of human trafficking, deriving support from prostitution, and failing to register as a sex offender, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today. The defendant and his brother allegedly profited from their own individual schemes that exploited women, but operated in conjunction with each other and shared business practices.
Shaun Leoney (a.k.a Syncere), age 32, 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, Deriving Support from Prostitution, and Failing to Register as a Sex Offender.
“This defendant and his brother allegedly collaborated together to run an operation in which they coerced women into prostitution, sexually exploited them, and kept the profits for themselves,” AG Coakley said. “These charges today demonstrate our continued commitment to aggressively investigate and prosecute those who engage in the egregious crime of human trafficking and our efforts to end the exploitation of people in the Commonwealth.”
“This case highlights the importance of law enforcement partnerships in tracking down these types of predators,” Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said. “These individuals allegedly preyed on vulnerable women as part of a criminal enterprise. Let the message be clear, we will continue to be relentless in the pursuit and prosecution those who seek to engage in human trafficking.”
Shaun Leoney’s brother, Michael Leoney, was arrested in December 2012 by State Police officers assigned to the AG’s Office on human trafficking and prostitution charges. In March 2013, Michael Leoney and Crystal Emerson, of Plymouth, were indicted in connection with running a human trafficking and prostitution operation.
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 Michael Leoney, with Emerson’s assistance, allegedly ran a human trafficking operation in Greater Boston, coordinated the recruitment of women into prostitution, advertised the women on websites known to advertise prostitution, and managed the financial aspects of the organization.
Further investigation revealed that Shaun Leoney, Michael’s brother, was involved in this human trafficking and prostitution operation. Authorities allege that the brothers profited from their own individual schemes, but their operations overlapped considerably.
According to investigators, Michael Leoney typically trafficked and sold Caucasian women, while Shaun Leoney typically trafficked and sold primarily Hispanic women. However, authorities allege that the brothers frequently shared internet advertisements, collaborated while planning commercial sexual encounters for the women, booked shared hotel rooms for the women they trafficked and sold, and often transported the women together. Both brothers allegedly would frequently use violence and threats of violence to control these women.
Evidence revealed that the brothers were in regular communication with each other regarding the daily operations of the business, including discussions of agreements between the two to traffic women for sexual servitude and monetary transactions related to the shared business. The brothers allegedly separately received the daily profits from the women under their control.
Authorities allege that Shaun Leoney failed to register as a sex offender by not providing the Sex Offender Registry Board with his true address. Authorities allege that Leoney primarily lived at a residence in Chelsea, not in Dorchester at his stated address, and did not disclose that to authorities.
Shaun Leoney was indicted today by a Suffolk Superior Court. He is due to be arraigned in Suffolk Superior Court at a later date.
His brother, Michael Leoney, was indicted along with Emerson in March 2013. Michael Leoney and Emerson are due back in Suffolk Superior Court on October 8 for a pre-trial conference.
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 Investigator Jaclyn Morrill of AG Coakley’s Financial Investigations Division and Paralegal Lindsay Bonda. 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.