A Topeka man accused of being involved in an interstate sex trafficking ring pleaded guilty Monday to one count of conspiracy.
Barry M. Johnson, 40, admitted to federal prosecutors that he helped run a Topeka-based prostitution business that operated in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska.
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall, Johnson recruited and groomed potential sex workers for the organization. He would tell the leader of the organization when he had a woman ready to work and the two would then negotiate payment arrangements.
The organization had, at times, as many as 20 women working as prostitutes. Some of those women were allowed to live in houses rented by 42-year-old Frank Boswell, Topeka, who prosecutors say was the leader of the operation.
Boswell and others involved in the trafficking ring used websites, social media and cell phones to advertise sexual services and keep track of prostitutes.
Along with Johnson and Boswell, five other Topeka residents were indicted on sex trafficking charges in October 2015 after a federal investigation uncovered the multi-state operation.
Rachel Flenniken, 34, and 23-year-old Shannon Nelson – both of whom worked as prostitutes and managed other sex workers for Boswell – each pleaded guilty to conspiracy earlier this year and are awaiting sentencing.
Michaela Hekekia, 36, is accused of recruiting and training prostitutes, including at least one minor, will stand trial in January.
Sean P. Hall, 47, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in June and faces up to five years in prison. Prosecutors say Hall would help set up online ads and drive sex workers to and from meetings with clients. He helped manage a nightclub in Lawrence owned by Boswell.
Andre C. Rhoiney, 48, was also included in the indictment. He is accused of being an “enforcer” with the organization, tasked with keeping sex workers under control. No trial or sentencing dates for Rhoiney were mentioned in a news release sent Monday by Beall’s office.
Boswell is set to stand trial on January 3.
Johnson is scheduled for sentencing on February 6. Attorneys have agreed to a recommended sentence of 46 months in federal prison.