A local man has pled guilty to human trafficking - the first time someone has been convicted of the Human Trafficking statute in Atlantic County, and only the second conviction of its kind in New Jersey.

Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain says Donnie T. Bethea, 42, of Atlantic City pled guilty yesterday to Human Trafficking, Sexual Assault, and Possession of a Weapong (a stun gun) for unlawful purposes.

According to McClain:

Pursuant to the plea agreement, Bethea will be sentenced to 13 years of incarceration in New Jersey State prison for human trafficking, 7 years in prison for sexual assault, to be served consecutively — with the stipulation that, pursuant to the No Early Release Act (NERA),he must serve 85% of that sentence before becoming eligible for parole — and 3 years in prison,
served concurrently, on the weapons possession count
In addition to the terms of incarceration, Bethea will be subject to Megan’s Law registration, evaluation at the Adult Diagnostic and Treatment Center in Avenel, NJ, and parole supervision for life upon release from prison.
An investigation by the FBI Lost Innocence Task Force — comprised of members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and members of local law enforcement agencies assigned to the Task Force, and the New Jersey State Police, identified two victims, and led to Bethea’s arrest on August 28, 2013 on the 8000 block of the Black Horse Pike.


Bethea was charged with aggravated assault, criminal restraint, sexual assault, and weapons possession, and was lodged in the Atlantic County Justice Facility on $250,000 full cash bail, where he has remained since.
Continuing investigation by FBI Lost Innocence Task Force detectives
resulted in the location of four more victims of Bethea by the end of 2013, bringing the number of female victims to six (6).
Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain reviewed the case, and authorized the issuance of 1st degree charges of Human Trafficking
on October 1, 2013.
Atlantic County Superior Court Judge Albert Garofolo set
bail at $1,000,000 full cash.Bethea was served the complaints in the Atlantic County Justice Facility.
After the additional charges were preferred, a seventh victim sought by police was located. The victims were all between the ages of 20 and 22, and were from Atlantic City, Egg Harbor Township, Vineland, Sussex
County in NJ, New York, and Ohio. The crimes occurred in Atlantic City and Egg Harbor Township.Bethea was indicted by Atlantic County Grand Juries
for crimes against the first six victims on December 19, 2013, and for crimes against the seventh victim on February 12, 2015, resulting in
18 criminal counts:
7 counts of Human Trafficking — 1st degree crimes — for
causing or threatening to cause serious bodily harm or physical restraint to the victims, in order to knowingly hold, recruit, lure, entice, harbor,
transport, provide, or obtain the victims to engage in prostitution,
1 count of Human Trafficking — a 1st degree crime — for facilitating access to acontrolled dangerous substance, in order to knowingly hold, recruit, lure, entice, harbor, transport, provide, or obtain a victim to engage in prostitution,
7 counts of Promoting Prostitution — 3rd degree crimes — for encouraging,
inducing, or causing the victims to become or remain prostitutes,
Sexual Assault — a 2nd degree crime,
Possession of a Weapon (a Stun Gun) for an Unlawful Purpose — a 3rd
degree crime, and
Possession of a prohibited device: a Stun Gun — a 4th degree crime

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