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Pimp gets 10 years in first-ever NJ human trafficking prosecution

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo
Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A pimp who ran a high-priced prostitution ring through violence and threats was sentenced today to 10 years in state prison — half of which he must serve before being eligible for parole — under New Jersey’s new human trafficking law.

Percival R. Williams, 36, of Edison, pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to commit human trafficking and promoting prostitution — one of the first ever in the state under the statute.

Williams — also known as Tayvann Dunston — posed as a music producer while tooling around in high-performance Maseratis and a Porsche, state authorities said.

His hooker girlfriend, 24-year-old Chanell “Asha” Vaughn, also pleaded guilty in February to swiping $500,000 worth of diamonds from a john at Manhattan’s Cosmopolitan Hotel.

“Williams lured vulnerable young women with promises of a glamorous life, only to trap them in a hell of prostitution, beatings and fear,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said.

Williams and Vaughn were arrested by federal agents a year ago this month following an investigation by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice and Edison police.

Using the street names “Knowledge” and “Don Cholo,” Williams found young women in various locations, including the Cleveland area, according to a state indictment returned in November. He impressed many of them with high-performance cars, including two Maseratis and a Porsche, and posed as a music producer, authorities said.

He then brought them to New Jersey, either against their will or by enticing them with promises of a relationship or better life, in order to enslave them in prostitution, it says.

Williams followed a familiar pattern for sex-related human trafficking, in which vulnerable victims are degraded, threatened and isolated from any support in their lives, the indictment says. He kept the women at his house or in nearby hotels and solicited clients by placing “sexually suggestive ads” on, it adds.

Williams also took or sent the women to various hotels in Manhattan, Las Vegas and Atlantic City to solicit clients, while demanding that they charge $500 to $1,000 a hour “and turn all proceeds over to him,” authorities said.

They complied because they believed Williams would hurt them or their families if they didn’t, the indictment alleges.

In one case, authorities said, he abducted a woman from Cleveland, unsuccessfully tried persuading her to move to New York with him, then laced her drink with a narcotic, drove her to New Jersey after she passed out and tried to force her to work as a prostitute.

The indictment says Vaughn stole the uncut diamonds on April 17, 2012 from a man’s room at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Manhattan, where she solicited him as a client for prostitution, then conspired with Williams to traffic them to New Jersey.

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NOTE: The New Jersey Human Trafficking Task Force operates a hotline for people to confidentially report suspected human trafficking: 1-855-END-NJ-HT (1-855-363-6548). It is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by detectives in the Human Trafficking Unit in the Division of Criminal Justice.

“We need victims and the public to come forward and tell us where human trafficking is occurring,” state Division of Criminal Justice Director Elie Honig said today. “Too many victims are lost in the shadows, struggling to overcome fear and shame. “We want them to know that we will protect them and deliver them from the criminals who have taken away their freedom.”

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According to Hoffman: The investigation was conducted and coordinated for the Division of Criminal Justice by Deputy Attorney General Curley, Lt. Lisa Shea, Sgt. Keith Stopko, and Detectives Naike Kudlick, Eric Barnes, Noelle Holl, Terry Shaw and Shawn Gorlin, as well as Analyst Alison C. Callery.

“They worked cooperatively with members of the Edison Police Department Special Operations Group, including Sgt. Michael Mintchwarner, Sgt. Frank Todd, Detective Michael Carullo, Detective Brian Maurath and Detective Jeff Abrams.

“The New Jersey State Police TEAMS Unit provided valuable assistance in the execution of warrants,” Hoffman said.

He also thanked the U.S. Marshals Service “for their dedicated efforts to successfully apprehend Williams.”

Deputy Attorney General Russell J. Curley presented the case to the state grand jury.

Deputy Attorney General Annmarie Taggart, deputy chief of the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, and Deputy Attorney General Jacqueline Weyand handled the sentencing, Hoffman said.

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