Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of North Dakota
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 26, 2016
Minneapolis Man Pleads Guilty to Transporting Woman for Prostitution
FARGO – U. S. Attorney Christopher C. Myers announced that on Jan. 26, 2016, Ronnel Johnson, 31, Minneapolis, Minn., pled guilty before U. S. District Judge Ralph R. Erickson to One Count of Transportation for the Purposes of Prostitution.
This case came to the attention of law enforcement after the North Dakota Highway Patrol stopped a rental vehicle driven by Johnson on I-94 near Valley City, North Dakota. Johnson and his female passenger were traveling from Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Williston, North Dakota. When interviewed by law enforcement during the traffic stop, Johnson and his passenger gave conflicting stories about the purpose of their trip to Williston. A subsequent search of the vehicle revealed cell phones which contained text messages sent and received by Johnson that revealed that he was involved in directing prostitution. Johnson’s cell phone also revealed sexually explicit photographs of at least two women that were identical to photographs that ran in backpage.com advertisements for commercial sex in western North Dakota.
One such victim depicted in photographs that were recovered from Johnson’s cell phone and the backpage.com advertisement reported that Johnson had previously transported her to Williston, North Dakota, for the purpose of prostitution.
Sentencing has tentatively been set for April 18, 2016, at the U. S. District Court in Fargo. Johnson could face up to 10-years in prison, lifetime supervised release, and/or a $250,000 fine.
This case was investigated by the North Dakota Highway Patrol, North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Minneapolis Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Assistant U. S. Attorney Jennifer Puhl is prosecuting the case.