SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A Springfield couple facing several sex trafficking charges remains in jail awaiting another court date, after one had been scheduled for Thursday.
Milford and Tiana Lewis are accused of running a multi-state prostitution ring. The couple allegedly recruited women through a business called “Sinful Innocence,” then forced those women to work as prostitutes.
The Lewises had been expected to be back at U.S. District Court in Springfield Thursday, but lawyers for the couple were not prepared in time for Thursday’s hearing, and had not yet filed letters of discovery.
The Lewises were arrested outside the 5th Alarm in Springfield. According to court documents obtained by the 22News I-Team, the couple ran a business called Sinful Innocence, which claimed to be a talent for the adult entertainment industry.
The couple allegedly told victims they would work as models, and escorts, then forced them to work as prostitutes. The victims said that if they disagreed or tired to leave, they would beat them, or even threaten to kill them.
Milford and Tiana Lewis are now facing several sex trafficking charges. They were originally charged in a 10-count indictment, but were charged with additional sex crimes when more victims came forward in July.
The 22News I-Team spoke exclusively to U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz about this case.
“How this will actually resolve itself remains to be seen. They’ve been arrested and charged, initially with, I believe it was 3 victims in the case, and then we superseded to add additional victims to the indictment,” said Ortiz.
That superseding indictment includes another eight charges including:
- Conspiracy to commit sex trafficking
- Sex trafficking
- Interstate transportation to engage in prostitution
- Interstate inducement to engage in prostitution
- Extortionate threats
Ortiz also told 22News I-Team what to expect in court on Thursday.
“It will proceed in court, the way most cases proceed in court. There will be a discovery phase, in which we’re required to turn over reports from police, the evidence that we’ve developed, and any statements for example the victims made by the defendants,” said Ortiz.
The documents obtained by the 22News I-Team also say the victims were forced to work in several locations, including motels in West Springfield, and a house in Springfield.
In Massachusetts, you could be sentenced to life in prison if you’re found guilty of sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.
The Lewises’ next hearing is scheduled for January 5. At that time,. they could enter pleas of guilty or not guilty.
Sinful Innocence Human Trafficking News:
- Springfield couple face more sex trafficking charges in prostitution case
- New charges possible in “Sinful Innocence” case
- Springfield native, husband detained on human trafficking allegations
- Human Trafficking suspects due in Federal Court
- Springfield couple allegedly recruited women online to be prostitutes
National Human Trafficking Resource Center
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Human trafficking is the trade of humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others.