JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A Columbia, Mo., man was sentenced in federal court today for his role in a prostitution operation that involved sex trafficking a minor victim.
Kenneth Ronald Jones, 26, of Columbia, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Stephen R. Bough to 15 years in federal prison without parole.
In separate but related cases, Barry Paul Manthe, 65, and Ronald James Clark, 68, both of Columbia, have pleaded guilty to using the internet to promote a racketeering enterprise, a prostitution business that operated out of a Columbia residence. They are scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 24, 2019.
On Aug. 6, 2018, Jones pleaded guilty to one count of the sex trafficking of a minor and two counts of transportation for illegal sexual activity by coercion and enticement. Jones admitted that he induced three victims, including a minor, to travel across state lines to engage in prostitution and illicit sexual activity between May 1 and June 1, 2016.
On June 28, 2016, a 17-year-old victim from Wisconsin – identified in court documents as “FV1” – contacted her social worker and reported that she was being held against her will by Jones. She was located at a residence in Columbia that was known for prostitution and removed by law enforcement officers.
FV1 told investigators that Manthe paid for escort advertisements on the website Backpage for the prostitutes utilizing the brothel. According to FV1, she was advertised under a pseudonym but the ads did not include her photograph. Jones found photographs of other females on the Internet and gave them to Manthe to post with the ad.
Clark collected the door fee from the prostitutes, which ranged from $10 to $30. FV1 gave the rest of the money she earned through prostitution to Jones. Clark applied the door fee income to the monthly bills, then split the remaining profit between himself and Manthe.
FV1 told investigators that she met Jones and another victim, a teenager identified as “FV2,” in May 2016 at a party in Milwaukee, Wis., and agreed to travel with him to Columbia to engage in prostitution. As soon as she arrived in Columbia, she was expected to see clients. Jones, who knew she was 17 years old, instructed FV1 to tell everyone at the house she was 18 years old. Jones had her charge $120 for half an hour, or $160 for a full hour. FV1 gave $20 to the owners of the residence and the rest of the proceeds of her prostitution to Jones.
FV2 told investigators that she met Jones in March 2016 at a party in Milwaukee and accompanied him to Columbia because she believed she would be assisting Jones with selling narcotics. FV2 estimated that she earned about $2,500 for engaging in prostitution, but was not allowed to keep any of the money. After about two weeks in Columbia, FV2 and Jones returned to Milwaukee to pick up FV1, after which they returned to the same brothel in Columbia.
FV2,” told police that she worked at the brothel every day and was advertised through Backpage. Jones physically abused her in the days prior to her running away in late May or early June 2016. She reported Jones pointed a 9mm handgun in her face and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not fire.
Jones arranged for a third victim, a teenager identified as “FV3,” to join them in Columbia. FV3, after communicating with Jones on Facebook, agreed to come to Columbia to help him with his drug business. After she arrived in Missouri, Jones told FV3 she needed to make money and threatened to kick her to the streets if she did not do what he wanted. FV3 agreed and did a prostitution “date.” FV3 stated Jones directed her to charge clients $120 per half hour and $200 per hour. FV3 gave a door fee to the owners of the brothel and the rest of the money to Jones. She witnessed Jones point guns and threaten the other victims.
This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ashley S. Turner. It was investigated by the FBI, the Greendale, Wis., Police Department, the Columbia, Mo., Police Department and the Sturgeon Bay, Wis., Police Department.