Multistate prostitution case is still in courts


More than a year ago, the feds charged nearly two dozen men and women with moving women and girls -- including some Toledo-area teens -- around the country as prostitutes.

A lot has happened since then. Little has changed.

The heftiest indictment in a series of cases filed in Detroit, Toledo, and Harrisburg, Pa., was 102 pages and contained 33 counts against 16 men and women. They were accused of operating a ring that was based, at least in part, in Harrisburg.

Over the year, six of those defendants pleaded guilty to a variety of charges.

Five face sentencing hearings that are scheduled through April, and a sixth man, David Powers, 37, was released from prison after admitting to crossing state lines to promote prostitution. He will remain under supervision for two years.

The case has been delayed at least three times, and attorneys now are asking Judge Yvette Kane to postpone it again.

Derek Maes, 42, accused as one of the pimps in the organization, asked the judge to remove his court-appointed attorney.

Maes said the attorney pressured him to accept a plea agreement because Maes "may get a judge that does not like black people."

The attorney responded that he "firmly denied" making such a statement and asked to be removed. Judge Kane agreed.

Mr. Maes' new attorney is among those who has asked for another delay -- noting that he now has to wade through "voluminous discovery" including photographs, CDs, audiotapes, and more than 10,000 pages of documents.

In a related case, charges were dismissed against three teenagers accused of hiding Dawan Oliver, 24, another accused pimp, in a crawl space in a Holland-area home.

Agents went to the home, they said, knowing that one of the three teens had a misdemeanor traffic violation. They also had an arrest warrant for Mr. Oliver.

However, they spent an estimated 45 minutes trying to find Mr. Oliver -- what the judge called "an unreasonable warrantless search."

Had agents suspected Mr. Oliver was hiding somewhere in the house, Judge Kane ruled, they could have waited outside and obtained a search warrant.

Oliver was one of the six who has pleaded guilty to charges and awaits sentencing.

In U.S. District Court in Detroit, Deric Willoughby, 41, pleaded guilty in August with two women, Brandy Shope, 20, and Jennifer Huskey, 25, to forcing two Toledo teens to prostitute after holding them captive in a Downing Avenue house. All three are scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 22.