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Author: Jess Johnson

DOJ Charges Three in High-End Virginia Prostitution Ring – Federal Agents Investigate Customers

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DOJ Charges Three in High-End Virginia Prostitution Ring – Federal Agents Investigate Customers

The Department of Justice announced this week that it has charged three men with operating a brothel catering to a high-end clientele in Virginia and Massachusetts. The Department stated that many of the customers included elected officials, military officers, doctors, lawyers, defense contractors, and people with security clearances. While the charges have been brought in Boston, Massachusetts, the Department noted that the operation also occurred in two Virginia cities: Fairfax and Tysons.

The best way to protect yourself in criminal investigations is to hire a lawyer as soon as possible. Contact our federal criminal attorneys today to discuss how we can help your case. Our office is located in Alexandria, Virginia.

Investigation into Customers

The U.S. Attorney’s Office noted that it has interviewed some alleged sex buyers and that its investigation is still on-going, which likely means additional interviews and the execution of search warrants.

The federal complaint alleges that the three men created a brothel network in multiple state in order to persuade women to travel to Virginia and Massachusetts to have sex with customers in exchange for money. The complaint also claims that the men rented out high-end apartments (one costing more than $3,600 per month) to carry out the scheme. The men allegedly advertised on websites and required the customers to go through a screening process.

Federal Law and Prostitution

So far the men have only been charged in a criminal complaint, which simply requires a law enforcement officer to sign an affidavit. The men have been charged with conspiring to violate 18 U.S.C. § 2422, which makes it unlawful to coerce or entice someone to travel across state lines for the purpose of engaging in prostitution. The conspiracy count, which is alleged under 18 U.S.C. § 371, carries a sentence of up to five years in prison. A substantive count to § 2422 carries up to 20 years in prison.

It is expected that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will indict the men soon. An indictment is the official charge in a federal criminal case which is handed down by a federal grand jury. Indictments often include additional offenses such as financial crimes (e.g., money laundering and wire fraud).

What Customers Should Expect

Based on our experience, the DOJ is likely going to continue interviewing customers to determine if any customers committed crimes beyond simply paying for sex. If any minors were involved, for instance, the sentencing penalties would increase significantly.

Individuals being interviewed by law enforcement should be cautious. Not only do they run the risk of incriminating themselves during these interviews, but the feds will also be looking to charge customers if they lie during the interviews. These charges could include making false statements and obstructing a federal investigation. Anyone who is contacted by law enforcement or who receives a “target” letter in the mail would be wise to retain a federal criminal defense attorney. By retaining counsel, a person under investigation can ensure that his rights and reputation are protected.

Customers should also be cautious that the U.S. Attorney’s Office might refer cases to Virginia prosecutors for prosecution. While typically less severe than federal charges, Virginia law still treats solicitation of prostitution harshly and opens the door for public embarrassment.

Contact US

Our criminal defense lawyers at Johnson/Citronberg have successfully represented numerous individuals across the country who were targets in federal criminal investigations. If you have been contacted by law enforcement or think that you might be, give our federal criminal attorneys a call at (703) 684-8000.

Federal Agents are Investigating a Prostitution Ring in Virginia

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Cary Citronberg Teaches Course on Autism and Internet Sex Crimes in Virginia

Cary Citronberg, a partner at the Alexandria-based law firm Johnson/Citronberg, recently taught a legal course on leveraging autism in internet sex crimes cases to fellow Virginia criminal lawyers. The course, which was put on by the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (VACDL), focused on how defense lawyers in Virginia can use an autism diagnosis to get their clients a better deal.

Cary is widely regarded as a leading expert in the field of internet sex crimes cases, including child pornography and solicitation of a minor cases.

Cary’s course looked at a relatively new provision in Virginia law, which allows for a judge to dismiss child pornography charges where 1) the defendant has been diagnosed with autism or an intellectual disability and 2) there is a direct and substantial relationship between the criminal offense and the person’s mental disorder. You can read more about the Virginia law and its requirements here.

Cary explained how the defense lawyer should make a presentation to the Commonwealth (and perhaps later to the Court as well) to convince the prosecutor that the defendant should benefit from Virginia’s autism law. To prepare for these presentations, Cary outlined that the defense lawyer should do a number of things to get their client’s case dismissed, including:

  1. Have the client undergo a psychological evaluation by a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist.
  2. Obtain a report from the psychiatrist or clinical psychologist showing an autism diagnosis as well as a substantial connection between the diagnosis and the offense.
  3. Gather studies from experts explaining the employment difficulties that people with autism face after a criminal conviction.
  4. Gather letters from family members explaining that the burden of caring for the defendant will fall on them.
  5. Prepare a detailed treatment plan.

By following these steps, a criminal lawyer can ensure that their clients with autism are fully protected under Virginia law.

If someone you know with autism has been accused of an internet sex crime, such as child pornography or online solicitation of a minor, you can contact Cary Citronberg at 703-684-8000 to discuss if he can help. Cary works primarily out of Johnson/Citronberg’s Alexandria office, but he represents clients accused of sex crimes across Virginia, including Fairfax and Charlottesville.

Retroactive – Part A to Amendment 821 of Federal Sentencing Guidelines

The U.S. Sentencing Commission has made Part A of Amendment 821 (known as the “status point” amendment) to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines retroactive. This amendment may impact inmates who were on probation, parole, or supervised release at the time they committed the federal offense for which they were sentenced. More than 11,000 inmates are expected to benefit from this change in the Guidelines.

Unless Congress intervenes by November 1, 2023, the amendment will apply retroactively to eligible inmates who are currently serving time in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. If a judge lowers an inmate’s sentence, the inmate will have to wait until at least February 1, 2023 before he or she can be released.

The Commission has also made changes to the Guidelines for “zero-point” offenders with no prior criminal history under Part B, which you can read about here.

What is the Part A amendment?

The Part A amendment limits the criminal history impact of status points under §4A1.1(d) of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. Specifically, the Part A amendment changes how status points are assessed for some inmates who were on probation, parole, or supervised release at the time that they committed the federal offense for which they were sentenced.

How big of a reduction can inmates get under the Part A amendment?

Eligible inmates may qualify for a 1 or 2-point criminal history reduction. On average, a qualifying inmate can expect a 12% reduction in his or her sentence. For example, an inmate who received a sentence of 120 months may see his sentence reduced to 106 months. Currently, there are nearly 11,500 federal inmates who may qualify for a reduced sentence under this amendment.

Who qualifies for a reduced sentence?

There are four basic steps in determining who qualifies for a reduced sentence under Part A:

Step 1: Did the inmate receive status points?

To be eligible, the defendant must have received points under §4A1.1(d) of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines. This section calls for a 2-point assessment where the “defendant committed the instant offense while under any criminal justice sentence, including probation, parole, supervised release, imprisonment, work release, or escape status.”

Step 2: Determine the total criminal history points.

  • If the defendant’s criminal history points totaled 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, or 8, then he or she may qualify for a 2 criminal history point reduction.
  • If the defendant’s criminal history points totaled 10 or 13, then he or she may qualify for a 1-point reduction.

Step 3: Determine if there was a downward departure or variance

If the defendant received a sentence lower than the new Guidelines range due to a departure or variance, then he or she likely doesn’t qualify for a sentence reduction.

Step 4: Determine if a mandatory minimum applies

If the defendant was subject to a mandatory minimum sentence, the court won’t be able to go any lower than the respective mandatory minimum.

Are reductions automatic?

No, a defendant will typically need to file a motion with the court requesting that his or her sentence be reduced under the new amendment. While the Government can also make this request, a defendant should hire an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer to make sure that his rights are protected and that he receives the lowest sentence possible.

Contact us now

If you know an inmate that may benefit from the Part A amendment, give our federal sentencing lawyers a call at 703-684-8000 or email us here. Johnson/Citronberg is a nationally recognized federal criminal defense law firm based in Alexandria, Virginia and represents individuals in federal courts across the country.