For Immediate Release - November 03, 2015

Dorchester Man Pleads Guilty, Sentenced to Seven Years in Prison for Human Trafficking

AG’s Office Has Charged More Than 20 Individuals with Human Trafficking Since 2012

BOSTON – A Dorchester man has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to seven years in state prison in connection with a human trafficking operation he was running, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.

Shaun Leoney (a.k.a Syncere), age 33, pleaded guilty on Monday in Suffolk Superior Court to 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.

After the plea was entered, Judge Jeffrey Locke sentenced Leoney to seven years to seven years and one day in state prison, with five years of probation to serve upon his release.

“This defendant coerced women into prostitution, sexually exploited them, and kept the profits for himself,” AG Healey said. “Our office is committed to ending the exploitation of people and will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute those who engage in the egregious crime of human trafficking. We thank the Boston Police Department for their invaluable assistance in this case.”

“The Boston Police Human Trafficking Unit has worked this case for several years, diligently collecting evidence to create a strong case against Shaun Leoney,” said Boston Police Commissioner William Evans. “In collaboration with the Attorney General’s office and our law enforcement partners, we will continue to work tirelessly to disrupt human trafficking networks and hold accountable those, like the Leoney brothers, who profit from exploiting and committing violence against women.” 

Shaun Leoney was indicted by a Suffolk Superior Court in October 2013. Shaun Leoney’s brother, Michael Leoney, was arrested in December 2012 and was later  indicted in connection with running a human trafficking and prostitution operation. Michael Leoney is due in Suffolk Superior Court for a hearing on Nov. 5.

The AG’s Office began an investigation in 2012 after the matter was referred by the Boston Police Department Human Trafficking Unit. The joint investigation determined that Michael Leoney allegedly ran a human trafficking operation in Greater Boston, coerced women into prostitution, advertised the women on websites alleged to advertise prostitution, and managed the financial aspects of the organization.

Further investigation revealed that Shaun Leoney 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 frequently used 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.

Shaun Leoney also failed to register as a sex offender by not providing the Sex Offender Registry Board with his true address. Leoney primarily lived at a residence in Chelsea, not in Dorchester at his stated address, and did not disclose that to authorities.

The AG’s dedicated Human Trafficking Division focuses on policy, prevention and criminal prosecutions. Through that division, the AG’s Office has charged more than 20 individuals in connection with human trafficking.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Deb Bercovitch, Chief of the AG’s Human Trafficking Division, and Assistant Attorney General Nancy Rothstein, also of the AG’s Human Trafficking Division, with assistance from Paralegal Stephanie Haven, and Nikki Antonucci, Chief of the AG’s Victim Services Division. The investigation was conducted by Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Attorney General’s Office, Sallyann Nelligan, Director of the AG’s Financial Investigations Division, investigators from AG Healey’s Digital Evidence Lab, and investigators from The Boston Police Department.

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