Raleigh Man Sentenced to 17 ½ Years on Child Pornography Charge After Sex Trafficking 14-Year-Old Runaway

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NEW BERN, N.C. – Marcus Antwan Gambrell, 30, of Raleigh, was sentenced today to 210 months in prison for manufacturing child pornography.  Gambrell and co-defendant Kevin Rudolph were charged in a four-count superseding indictment on April 7, 2020.  The indictment charged both men with sex trafficking of a minor and using the internet to promote prostitution, Gambrell with manufacturing child pornography, and Rudolph with possession of a firearm by a felon.  Gambrell pled guilty to the manufacturing charge on January 19, 2021. 

According to court records and statements made during hearings, on December 28, 2018, a detective of the Raleigh Police Department was conducting an online investigation when he came across an advertisement offering a minor for prostitution.  Law enforcement identified the minor as a 14-year-old girl who had run away from a temporary home six days earlier.  The detective texted the phone number listed on the advertisement to set up a prostitution sting date.  He was directed to a room at a Motel 6 in Raleigh, where he located and rescued the victim.  In the room, officers located condoms, an iPad, and a bookbag with a firearm.  Law enforcement discovered that the hotel was registered to Marcus Gambrell.  A review of the iPad revealed photos of the victim that had been used in the prostitution advertisements, as well as additional photos that showed the minor victim’s genitals.  In some photos, Gambrell’s hand was visible and identifiable based on tattoos. 

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The victim explained to officers that after running away—in slippers and with no coat, despite it being late December—she had ended up at the Raleigh Inn in Raleigh.  There, on Christmas Day, she had met and socialized with Gambrell and Rudolph.  The two men invited her to relocate with them to a nearby Motel 6 the next day.  Once at the Motel 6, Gambrell took nude photos of the victim with the iPad.  The two men used those photos to post and maintain prostitution advertisements for the victim on the internet.  Over the next two days, they took turns supervising the prostitution and updated each other over Facebook Messenger.   The victim estimated that Rudolph and Gambrell arranged around 10 to 15 “dates” per day, and they kept all the money.  She stated that on one occasion Gambrell had vaginal sex with her, as Rudolph recorded a video with his cell phone.  Law enforcement, however, did not recover the video. 

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Co-defendant Kevin Rudolph pled not guilty on September 14, 2021, to three counts: sex trafficking of a minor, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and use of the internet to promote prostitution.  Hs trial is currently scheduled to begin May 16, 2022.

Charges against Rudolph are merely accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Michael F. Easley, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan. The Raleigh Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) conducted the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jake D. Pugh prosecuted the case.

Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:19-cr-0336-FL.


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