Jessica Copeland, 29, has pleaded guilty to a human trafficking charge for her role as a 'boss' in a New Jersey prostitution ring that was pimping out a 16-year-old girl who had been lured from Brooklyn.
Madame 'boss': Jessica Copeland, 29, dubbed 'China White,' has pleaded guilty to a human trafficking charge for her role as a 'boss' in a prostitution ring that was pimping out a 16-year-old girl who has been reported missing from Brooklyn
A New Jersey woman dubbed ‘China White’ has pleaded guilty to a human trafficking charge for her role in pimping out a 16-year-old girl who has been reported missing from Brooklyn.
Jessica Copeland, 29, of Newark, acted as a boss, or ‘bottom,’ over prostitutes in a sex trafficking ring, according to a press release from the office of New Jersey Attorney General Christopher.
On Wednesday, Copeland pleaded guilty to a single count of second-degree facilitating human trafficking in Bergen County. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors will recommend that she be sentenced to six years in a state prison, and will become eligible for parole after three years.
‘This defendant threatened a 16-year-old girl with violence to keep her trapped in a hellish life of sexual slavery,’ said Attorney General Porrino. ‘This is a classic case of human trafficking, in which the perpetrators isolated and intimidated a vulnerable victim so they could exploit her for their profit.’
Copeland is due back in court for her sentencing on October 25.
The 29-year-old was among five defendants who were indicted in the sex ring case in April 2015 as a result of an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and the South Hackensack Police Department.
They were all charged with conspiring to traffic the 16-year-old girl from Brooklyn to northern New Jersey to make her work as a prostitute at motels in South Hackensack and Clifton.
All in the family: Authorities say the New Jersey sex ring was being operated by Glen Bowman Sr (left) and his wife, Ernestine Bowman (right)
Glen Bowman Sr., 42, of Newark, and his wife, Ernestine Bowman, 32, of Orange, allegedly ran the illegal operation. Mrs Bowman pleaded guilty in December to second-degree facilitating human trafficking and is facing 10 years in prison, with 39 months of parole ineligibility.
Her husband has been charged with first-degree conspiracy, human trafficking and promoting prostitution of a minor pending against him.
The couple’s grown son, 23-year-old Glen Bowman Jr, of Brooklyn, previously pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy to promote prostitution and faces seven years in prison.
Another co-defendant tied to the trafficking operation, 33-year-old Tokina Williams, of Raleigh, North Carolina, has pleaded guilty to second-degree promoting prostitution.
Co-defendant: Tokina Williams, 33, has pleaded guilty to second-degree promoting prostitution in this case
The investigation began in the fall of 2014 as an undercover operation spearheaded by the South Hackensack Police Department targteting a prostitution ring that advertised on the notorious classifieds site Backpage.com. Such rings typically offer “escort services” and display nude or semi-nude photos of young women.
An undercover cop responded to an online ad offering escort services that featured a photo of a very young-looking girl with her breasts exposed, according to the statement from the Attorney General’s Office.
The officer called the number in the ad on October 1, 2014, and a woman told him that he could have ‘full sex’ with the girl in the photo for $160 cash at a motel on Route 46 in South Hackensack.
The undercover cop was directed to a room, where a teenage girl answered the door. She repeated that the price of ‘full sex’ was $160, which was then paid out to her in cash.
The police officer masquerading as a john asked why the bathroom door in the motel room was closed and learned there was a woman in the bathroom, who turned out to be defendant Tokina Williams.
The teenage girl invited Williams to come out and told her that the client had paid to have sex with both of them.
That is when backup police officers converged on the room and arrested Williams and the 16-year-old. The teenager turned to have been reported missing out of Brooklyn.
According to state officials, the victim met Glen Bowman Jr in Brooklyn several months earlier, and he allegedly conspired with his father to traffic her to New Jersey to work in the prostitution ring.
It is alleged that both Glen Bowman Sr and Jessica Copeland threatened the teen with physical violence if she did not follow their rules and perform to their expectations.
The defendants ferried the victim and other prostitutes to hotels and motels in South Hackensack, Clifton and other locations in northern New Jersey, where they had serviced clients. At the end of the day, the defendants allegedly picked them up and collected the money they had been paid.
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