SHERMAN, Texas – A Plano man has been sentenced for crimes involving firearms and sex offenses in the Eastern District of Texas, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei today.
Wayne Edward Bearden, 40, pleaded guilty on Dec. 4, 2019, to being a felon in possession of firearms and coercion, enticement, and aiding and abetting, and was sentenced to a total term of imprisonment of 180 months by U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant today.
“Today’s sentence takes a dangerous man off the street and will bring a measure of closure and comfort to those he victimized,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei. “While this case began as a firearms investigation, due to the excellent work of our federal and local law enforcement partners, we were able to uncover and dismantle a commercial sex trafficking operation.”
“We will work relentlessly with all of our committed law enforcement partners to identify and rescue victims of human trafficking and bring their exploiters and consumers to justice,” said Ryan L. Spradlin, Special Agent in Charge Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Dallas. “This sentence may successfully conclude this particular operation, but HSI’s efforts to eradicate sex trafficking continue.”
According to information presented in court, in August 2018, Bearden called the Plano Police Department after individuals robbed his Plano home. Responding officers observed several firearms in the house, and a subsequent investigation revealed that Bearden was a previously convicted felon, prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law.
During the investigation, Plano detectives and special agents with Homeland Security Investigations determined that Bearden was the organizer and leader of a sex trafficking operation. Specifically, Bearden employed a “booker” who coordinated the ads for sexual services, websites, and appointments for commercial sex appointments and used other women in managerial roles, transporting the prostituted women to locations around the United States, obtaining hotel rooms, and managing cash payments. Bearden controlled the acts the women performed as the leader of the operation, where they worked, how often they worked, how much money they made, with Bearden controlling the proceeds the prostituted women earned. As part of his plea, Bearden admitted to persuading, inducing, enticing, or coercing women to travel to other states to engage in illegal prostitution.
After his release from prison, Bearden will serve a complete term of supervised release of five years. In addition to Bearden, other members of the operation were previously sentenced by Judge Mazzant for conspiracy to travel or cause another to travel in interstate commerce and to use facilities of interstate commerce to promote, manage, establish, carry on and facilitate unlawful activity, including:
* Ashlynn Clark – sentenced on July 2, 2020, to five months in federal prison, five months home detention, and one year of supervised release;
* Shelby Holzen – sentenced on June 4, 2020, to three years of probation;
* Ashley Judith Schafer – sentenced on June 3, 2020, to six months in federal prison, six months home detention, and two years of supervised release.
A part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative prosecuted the case. Project Safe Neighborhoods aims to reduce gun and gang violence, deterring illegal possession of guns, ammunition, and body armor, and improve the safety of residents in the Eastern District of Texas.
Participants in the initiative include community members and organizations and federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.
Homeland Security Investigations of Dallas, the Plano Police Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marisa Miller and Tracey Batson prosecuted the case.