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'Modern-day slave owner' sentenced for human trafficking in O.C.

A 29-year-old Los Angeles man was sentenced to five years in prison and will have to register as a sex offender for life after pleading guilty to a host of sex and human-trafficking crimes.

Berneal Holman Jr. was sentenced last week after pleading guilty in Orange County to human-trafficking a minor, pimping a minor and conspiracy to commit human-trafficking of a minor, among other crimes.

A co-defendant, 26-year-old Whitney Latiss Jones, of Los Angeles, is also charged with conspiracy to commit human-trafficking of a minor, human-trafficking of a minor and pimping a minor, among other crimes. She faces up to 16 years in prison if convicted, partly because of previous offenses, and is scheduled for trial in October.

In a news release, the Orange County district attorney's office described Holman as "convicted of being a pimp/modern-day slave owner" and said Jones was his highest-ranking prostitute and that she recruited other women to their ring.

"Between August 2012 and October 2012, Jones is accused of meeting 16-year-old Jane Doe and grooming the victim to become a prostitute. ... During the grooming process, Jones is accused of taking Jane Doe to the Desert Inn Motel in Los Angeles and introducing the victim to Holman," according to the release.

"At the motel, Holman had unlawful sexual intercourse with the victim and afterwards instructed her to call him 'Daddy' and told her she now worked for him as a prostitute," according to the release.

Holman then took the teen to Anaheim to perform sex acts for money over at least a three-month period. The district attorney's office said Jones allegedly rented a motel room and would instruct the girl "on how to perform acts of prostitution" and would also allegedly collect the money and turn it over to Holman.

The district attorney's office noted the arrests occurred just days before Proposition 35, which increases penalties for human-trafficking, went into effect, saying, "Holman's maximum sentence would have been 10 years to life in state prison had he been charged under Proposition 35."

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Twitter: @aribloomekatz | Facebook

ari.bloomekatz@latimes.com

 

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