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Feds: Hempstead man oversaw sex-trafficking operation

With the help of an upstate accomplice, Lavelleous Purcell forced “women to engage in sex for money” that he kept himself, prosecutors say.

A Hempstead man has been indicted on felony sex trafficking charges in connection with allegations he forced up to 50 women into sex work and demanded they give him the money clients paid for their services, federal authorities said Monday.

Lavelleous Purcell, 39, who is also known as “King Casino” and “Mike Hill,” faces charges of violation of the Mann Act, enticement to engage in unlawful activities, the use of interstate commerce to promote unlawful activity, conspiracy to use interstate commerce to promote unlawful activity, and sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion.

He was arraigned Friday in Manhattan before United States Magistrate Judge Stewart D. Aaron.

An alleged co-conspirator, Gloria Palmer, 26, of Rochester, was arraigned upstate on Friday on a felony charge of conspiracy to use interstate commerce to promote unlawful activity, authorities said.

“Our FBI agents and law enforcement partner detectives won’t ever stop pursuing pimps who profit from using women not as human beings, but as objects and as a way to make money,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. in a news release Monday announcing the unsealing of an indictment against the pair.

Purcell’s actions were “exploitive, forcing women to engage in sex for money, and keeping the money for himself,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman in the news release. “Thanks to the FBI and NYPD, Purcell and his alleged accomplice, Gloria Palmer, are in custody.”

Neither defendant’s attorney could be reached for comment.

Purcell was being held without bail while Palmer was released on bail, prosecutors said, adding that she was charged as an accomplice because she booked rooms on behalf of Purcell and he paid for her services on a monthly basis.

Prosecutors said that “from 2012 to 2016, Purcell trafficked women, forcing them to engage in commercial sex, for which he was paid,” according to the news release. “Since at least 2015, Purcell has recruited women to travel in interstate commerce to engage in prostitution and has transported women across state lines to engage in prostitution.”

It added: “Palmer used the facilities of interstate commerce to promote the prostitution business by booking hotel rooms for Purcell and the women.”

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