Cary man sentenced in 'pimp' investigation

akenney@newsobserver.comMay 10, 2013 

Tony O'Brien Williams

CCBI

— A Cary man who had been charged with acting as a pimp and forcing two women into “sexual servitude” pleaded guilty Monday to a single lesser charge of soliciting sexual servitude from an adult.

Tony O’Brien Williams, 27, took the plea without admitting guilt, and he denies that he was involved in the women’s prostitution, according to attorney John Fitzpatrick Jr.

On Feb. 28, Cary police spotted Williams near Cary’s La Quinta Inn & Suites, where he spoke with a woman whom police believed to be a prostitute, according to assistant district attorney Meredith Parris. Williams already was the subject of an investigation.

“They heard the defendant wish her good luck,” Parris said in Wake County Superior Court on Monday. The next day, a Cary police officer spotted Williams driving a black 2012 Dodge Charger near one of the airport hotels where police say he operated his prostitution business.

In the March 1 arrest report, Cary police described Williams as “self-employed” and a “pimp.” He lives with his mother, Cheryl Garrett, on Piney Gap Drive, part of an affluent western Cary neighborhood, Garrett said Monday. Williams grew up in Durham and now has two children.

Cary police charged Williams with two counts of sexual servitude, an allegation that he had coerced or deceived women into prostitution. One of the women, age 20, is a resident of Wake Forest and an employee of a salon in Raleigh, while the other, age 19, lives in Burgaw and listed no employer, according to police reports.

Questions of servitude

As with most prostitution discovered in Cary, police say Williams apparently operated through Internet postings and local hotels and motels. Williams is only the second person to face a sexual servitude charge in Cary’s recent history.

“It’s so rare that we can get to the next level behind the operation,” said police Capt. Don Hamilton.

One of the women told police “that the defendant is essentially her pimp,” Parris said, while the other said that Williams had recruited her to work as a prostitute.

Fitzpatrick, Williams’ attorney, contested that claim, arguing that the two women are connected to Williams only because he dated both simultaneously and recently impregnated one. They were “consenting individuals,” he told the judge.

“A lot of times people interpret this and assume the pimp was beating on the girls, or tying them to the bed post,” Fitzpatrick said in a phone interview. “That was not the case, we contend.”

Prosecutors contended that Williams took the women’s income, then returned half of it to them in the form of pre-paid gift cards. Williams posted 114 prostitution-related ads on www.backpage.com in about a month at a cost of $10 each, Parris said.

“It looks as if this is how he was making his living,” Hamilton said.

Cary police seized from Williams almost $800 in cash and an iPad that included the same pictures that had accompanied the women’s Internet postings, prosecutors said.

Having already served about two months in jail, Williams now will be released to serve 18 months of probation and pay a $1,000 fine, plus court costs. He could have served up to six years in jail on the original charges, his attorney said.

Williams accepted the plea because he could not afford to post the $251,000 bail and wanted to return to his family, among other factors, his attorney said. He is barred from contact with one of the women, but he’ll be allowed to interact with the woman who is pregnant with his child.

Neither woman was charged in connection to the case.

Kenney: 919-460-2608

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