The conviction in Orange County of a Washington state man described by prosecutors as a pimp marks the first in the county under the anti-human-trafficking proposition -- which increases penalties for such crimes -- approved last year by California voters.
Prosecutors said Mark Wesley Anderson and Jaeleesa Jaemika Smith, the woman who worked with him to recruit prostitutes, both pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges related to bringing a woman from another state to Orange County under false pretenses and forcing her into prostitution.
In a statement released Thursday, Orange County Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said Anderson "treated another human with less respect than one would treat livestock."
Anderson, 27, of Seattle, was sentenced to eight years in state prison after pleading guilty to one felony count each of human trafficking and possession of a controlled substance for sale, prosecutors said.
Smith, 25, of Salem, Ore., pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit pimping. She was sentenced to three years of probation with four years in state prison that has been suspended, pending the completion of her probation, prosecutors said.
In the statement, prosecutors explained that they had given her consideration because she was "emotionally manipulated by Anderson and was less criminally culpable."
In November of last year, prosecutors said Anderson met a 30-year-old woman in another state, befriending her with the intention of making her a prostitute. Prosecutors said the woman, however, thought that she had a romantic relationship with Anderson and refused when he tried to recruit her for prostitution.
In March, Anderson brought the woman on a trip, telling her it was a vacation. He drove the woman, Smith and two others to Idaho. Prosecutors said Anderson and Smith told the woman that they were short on money and she needed to make some through prostitution.
She knew that Anderson had previously been violent toward another woman, beating her with a wire hanger, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said Smith served as a recruiter and enforcer, carrying out what was described as the "rules of the game" imposed by Anderson. Anderson and Smith, authorities said, set prices for various sexual acts and would not allow the woman to sleep unless she made enough money to fill a quota.
The woman couldn't eat without permission, prosecutors said, and Smith would hit her if she broke one of the "rules." Prosecutors said Anderson would also steal the woman's food stamps, selling them and keeping the money for himself.
Later in March, prosecutors said the woman was brought to Orange County, and she was forced to walk down the street in high-prostitution areas to attract customers. Anderson also posted ads featuring the woman on prostitution websites, authorities said.
Anderson and Smith collected the money the woman received from various sex acts, and food and sleep were withheld if she didn't meet the quota they'd set, prosecutors said.
At one point, prosecutors said, the woman was able to reach out to a relative in another state, explaining that she was being kept under duress in Anaheim and needed help. The relative called Anaheim police, who investigated the claim and arrested Anderson and Smith on March 27. Anderson was also in possession of Ecstasy with the intent to sell, prosecutors said.
California voters in November passed Proposition 35, which increases penalties for human trafficking, in particular cases in which minors are trafficked by force.