A federal judge Monday sentenced a Cary man to seven years behind bars for using the Internet to promote prostitution across state lines.
Federal investigators accused Tony O’Brien Williams, 29, of using verbal threats, violence and narcotics to maintain control over the women working for him and to force them to continue in prostitution, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Raleigh. Prosecutors said Williams took away the women’s identification cards and cellphones to limit their contact with family, friends “and other external influences,” the U.S. Attorney Office said.
Willams pleaded guilty on Nov. 9 to interstate transportation for prostitution and use of the Internet to promote prostitution.
Williams was first targeted by Cary police, who began their investigation in January 2013, after being alerted that someone was using ads in the escort section of www.backpage.com to promote prostitution. Cary detectives began a series of undercover operations in an effort to identify those involved.
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Cary police determined that the prostitution began February 2012 and continued until January of last year, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Federal investigators think that in addition to North Carolina, Williams ran a prostitution operation from various hotels in Virginia and Georgia.
Investigators said Williams “recruited and employed several women whose prostitution services were advertised on Backpage,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. In addition to seven years in prison, U.S. District Judge Malcolm J. Howard sentenced Williams to 10 years of supervised release after his prison term is over.