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7th Circuit affirms life sentences in prostitution ring

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Two men sentenced to life in prison on an assortment of federal charges related to a prostitution ring involving underage girls that operated in northwest Indiana failed in their appeal before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, but judges asked the trial court to clarify the sentence for a third defendant.

In U.S. v. Justin Cephus, Jovan Stewart, and Stanton L. Cephus, 10-3838, 10-3840, 11-1098, all defendants were convicted of more than 20 counts for their roles in organizing and running a prostitution ring in which force and coercion were used to recruit dozens of underage girls, often runaways, as prostitutes. The girls sometimes were transported across state lines to Illinois.

The Cephuses were each sentenced to life in prison, but Stewart was sentenced to 324 months in prison. The order remands to the district court to reconcile a discrepancy in Stewart’s sentence: the judge orally said Stewart’s sentences were to be served consecutively, but the written order says the sentences are to run concurrently.

The girls worked in escort agencies in which Justin Cephus was identified as the ringleader and described as a pimp who controlled through violence and confiscated money the girls were paid for turning tricks.

The judges rejected arguments on appeal that the indictment was “duplicitous,” and that prosecutors frequently posed leading questions to witnesses.


 

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  1. I will be filing a lawsuit in Tippecanoe County for so many violations in a case we became involved in, including failure to contact through mail, Violation of 4th Amendment rights, Violation of Civil Rights, and so on. Even the Indiana Ombudsmen Bureau found violations and I have now received the report and they are demanding further training in Tippecanoe County. I am going to make sure they follow through!!!

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  3. I thought the purpose of the criminal justice center was to consolidate all the criminal services and get them out of downtown to clean up the place. Why in the HELL are the civil courts moving? What a burden to all the downtown law firms. Now we all get to work downtown, but then have to get in a car and COMMUTE to court? Who approved this idiocy?

  4. I drive through the neighborhood whenever I go to the City-County Building or the Federal Courthouse. The surrounding streets are all two way with only two lanes of traffic, and traffic is very slow during rush hour. I hope that enough money has been allocated to allow for improvement of the surrounding streets.

  5. I have had an ongoing custody case for 6 yrs. I should have been the sole legal custodial parent but was a victim of a vindictive ex and the system biasedly supported him. He is an alcoholic and doesn't even have a license for two yrs now after his 2nd DUI. Fast frwd 6 yrs later my kids are suffering poor nutritional health, psychological issues, failing in school, have NO MD and the GAL could care less, DCS doesn't care. The child isn't getting his ADHD med he needs and will not succeed in life living this way. NO one will HELP our family.I tried for over 6 yrs. The judge called me an idiot for not knowing how to enter evidence and the last hearing was 8 mths ago. That in itself is unjust! The kids want to be with their Mother! They are being alienated from her and fed lies by their Father! I was hit in a car accident 3 yrs ago and am declared handicapped myself. Poor poor way to treat the indigent in Indiana!

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