Department of Justice Wins Conviction in Billings Human Trafficking Case
BILLINGS – A New Mexico man was convicted of aggravated promotion of prostitution Wednesday in Yellowstone County District Court following an investigation by the Montana Department of Justice (DOJ) Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI) that found he engaged in human trafficking and coerced a child into prostitution. DOJ attorneys prosecuted the case.
While keeping in contact and directing activities over phone calls and text messages, Lavondrick Terelle Hogues, 35, sent a woman and a 17-year-old girl on a trip across the country to work as prostitutes in 2015, including New Mexico, Texas, North Dakota and Montana.
“This was a tough case, but our prosecutors did an excellent job winning the conviction that I hope will lead to a strong sentence from the judge,” Attorney General Austin Knudsen said. “The Montana Department of Justice is committed to fighting the scourge of human trafficking in our state. DCI investigators and Highway Patrol troopers are on the lookout and our legal team will aggressively prosecute these cases.”
A DCI agent acting in an undercover capacity found a website posting that offered “escort services.” He called the phone number and made arrangements to meet at a Billings hotel. Upon entering the room, he identified himself as a police officer and learned that one of the females was only 17 years old. The woman traveling with the minor was convicted of felony promotion of prostitution in 2016.
An ensuing investigation found that the woman constantly reported her and the minor’s location, activities, patrons, and how much money they were making and spending spending, and sent photos to Hogues. He made comments to the effect that they “better get to making some money.” Hogues and the woman also sent money back and forth using electronic and wire transfers.
He was eventually arrested by New Mexico authorities and extradited to Montana and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
A sentencing date has not been set. Hogues is currently being held without bond at the Yellowstone County Detention Center. District Judge Donald L. Harris presided. Department of Justice attorneys Chris McConnell and Melissa Broch prosecuted the case.