BOSTON – A Springfield man was sentenced yesterday for sex trafficking female victims through a prostitution business.
William Coleman, 49, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni to 186 months in prison and five years of supervised release. In February 2020, Coleman pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and nine counts of sex trafficking. Coleman has been in custody since his arrest on Dec. 23, 2018.
“This sentence is a stern reminder of the consequences facing those involved in the unconscionable practice of sex trafficking,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling. “My office, in tandem with our law enforcement partners, remains steadfast in its resolve to eradicate illegal sex trafficking operations that prey on vulnerable victims.”
“This sentencing is yet another success in the fight against the crime of human trafficking in our region,” said Michael Shea, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), Boston. “We applaud this sentence as a measure of justice for the victims who suffered often brutal sexual exploitation at the hands of Coleman through his web of illegal activity which covered multiple states. This case could never have been completed without the expert, close coordination of our concerned community of stakeholders in the Western Massachusetts Human Trafficking Working Group.”
From 2016 to 2018, Coleman ran a prostitution business in the Springfield area, the greater Hartford, Conn., area, and other parts of Connecticut. Coleman used violence and the drug addictions of eight female victims to coerce them into engaging in commercial sex acts with paying customers. The victims were typically required to turn over all of their earnings to Coleman, and their daily lives were tightly controlled by him. Most of the women were not allowed to keep any of the money they earned, and they were only to obtain their drugs – in most cases, heroin – from Coleman. Victims who did not engage in prostitution for Coleman, or who did not follow his rules, were subjected to physical assaults, sexual violence and the withholding of drugs. Coleman used websites to post prostitution advertisements for the victims working for him.
U.S. Attorney Lelling; Hampden County District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni; HSI Boston Acting SAC Shea; Hampden County Sheriff Nicholas Cocchi; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood; and Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police made the announcement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex J. Grant of Lelling’s Springfield Branch Office prosecuted the case.
This case is the result of the efforts of the Western Massachusetts Human Trafficking Working Group, which was established in August 2015 to investigate and prosecute crimes involving commercial sex trafficking.