A Toledo man involved in the sex trafficking of a minor was sent to prison Tuesday for more than 18 years.
U.S. District Judge James Carr imposed a 224-month sentence for Taurus Devault, 27, saying it was a severe sentence for a serious crime. “Engaging in this conduct is a very serious federal crime,” the judge said.
Devault and Duane Hill, 27, of Toledo were indicted in 2012 after the Northwest Ohio Violent Crimes Against Children Task Force conducted a sting operation at a local motel where a 16-year-old girl was taken for prostitution.
Hill was sentenced to 200 months in prison last year after pleading guilty to conspiracy to use a facility in interstate commerce to facilitate prostitution, sex trafficking of a minor, and obstructing an investigation into alleged sex trafficking of a minor.
Devault pleaded guilty in May, 2013, to conspiracy to use a facility in interstate commerce to facilitate prostitution and sex trafficking of a minor, but his sentencing was delayed multiple times after he requested new attorneys and tried to withdraw his guilty plea.
In court Tuesday, Daniel Hurley, an assistant U.S. attorney, said Devault submitted a falsified letter purported to be written by Hill that claimed Hill was responsible for the operation and that Devault had nothing to do with it.
Toledo police Detective Peter Swartz took the witness stand briefly, testifying that Devault rented local motel rooms numerous times between January, 2012, and August, 2012. Phone records tie him to the minor victim in the case, he said, and his email address was used to place ads, which were used to arrange meetings with prostitutes.
Judge Carr found that Devault had obstructed the proceedings by submitting the forged letter.
While defense attorney Adrian Cimerman asked the court for the mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, Mr. Hurley said Devault was just as involved in the conspiracy as Hill.
“There is a minor victim here, and she was extremely traumatized by this,” he said. “This was not just selling drugs to people who wanted to buy them.”
Devault apologized to the court and admitted he did know what he was doing when the 16-year-old was taken to the hotel Aug. 8, 2012.
“What you did and were doing was extremely dangerous and very serious, and it will not be taken lightly by me or any other judge in this court,” he said.
Contact Jennifer Feehan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-213-2134.