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Pennsylvania ‘pimp’ admits role in Bergen-linked teen hooker ring

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A man awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking a minor admitted in federal court in Newark today that he ran a prostitution ring out of New Jersey and Pennsylvania while locked up in the Essex County jail.

In pleading guilty to coercion and enticement to engage in prostitution, Francisco Torrellas — a/k/a “Francisco Fordham Jr.,” “Dream,” “Daddy,” and “Pretty” — agreed to a 10-year federal prison sentence.

From November 2010 to February 2013, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman said, Torrellas “acted as a pimp,'” employing young women — one of whom was a 16-year-old girl — to work for him as prostitutes out of hotel rooms in Elmwood Park and Elizabeth, among other locations in both states.

“Torrellas required the girl to give him all of the money she made from performing sexual acts on customers, including any tips,” Fishman said. “The girl was also told that she was expected to earn $1,500 per day, except for Sundays, when she was expected to earn $750.”

Torrellas took photos of the girl posing seductively in a thong and bra, which were used in advertisements on Backpage.com, the U.S. attorney said.

“When [she] told Torrellas that she was only 16 years old, Torrellas instructed her to tell clients that she was 19,” Fishman said. “After the minor asked Torrellas to return her cell phone and told Torrellas that she wanted to leave, Torrellas told her he had broken [it] and directed another woman to keep a close eye on the minor.”

Another time, he said, Torrellas struck the girl in the face for not following his orders. The girl told FBI agents that he also choked and slapped other women in his stable.

Federal authorities first charged Torrellas with sex trafficking of a minor in connection with that case.

A week ago, a federal grand jury added charges of conspiracy to use an interstate facility in aid of prostitution business, transportation of a minor to engage in prostitution, coercion and enticement to engage in prostitution and obstruction in a 10-count superseding indictment.

That led to today’s plea.

Despite being incarcerated, Torellas stayed at work up until February 2013 — nine months after he was picked up — while having his conspirators “direct the proceeds of the business to his commissary account at the Essex County Correctional Facility,” the indictment says.

He also tampered with a witness in the case, it says.

Fishman credited the FBI, as well as the Jersey City, and Allentown, Pa., police departments with the investigation leading to the original charges and today’s superseding indictment.

Representing the government in the case are Assistant U.S. Attorneys Danielle Corcione and Jenny Kramer of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

Sentencing was scheduled for July 15, 2014.

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