Pimp Sentenced to 11.5 to 23 Years in Human Trafficking Case
A New Jersey man who ensnared drug-dependent women into lives of prostitution, controlling them with financial quotas and threats of violence, was sentenced Monday to serve 11½ to 23 years in state prison.
Christopher DeGrasse, 32, pleaded guilty to trafficking in individuals for financial gain, promoting prostitution, corrupt organizations and drug trafficking. His sentence, the result of a negotiated plea, was accepted by Bucks County Judge Wallace H. Bateman Jr.
“The sentence,” Bateman said, “appears to be commensurate with the crime,” which he called “particularly harsh.”
DeGrasse, of New Brunswick, N.J., was arrested April 5 by Bensalem Township police at the Best Western Motel in the 3400 block of Street Road. He had just left a room occupied by four women who were working for him as prostitutes.
The women told police that DeGrasse would photograph them and post the photos in advertisements on a web site known for soliciting prostitution business. The women said that DeGrasse set rates for their services, as well as strict quotas for how much money they had to make each day – typically about $800.
Those who met their quotas were compensated with heroin or crack cocaine to feed their addictions, the women said. Those who fell short were denied drugs and threatened with or subjected to physical violence.
One of the women, who said she had worked for DeGrasse for nine months, told police that he had beaten her numerous times and had prevented her from escaping. According to a probable cause affidavit, DeGrasse told her, “The only way you are leaving is in a body bag.”
Another woman told police that she had asked to leave after DeGrasse threatened her. He responded that her “exit fee” was $1,000, she said.
Visibly upset during her police interview, the same woman told police that DeGrasse “is gonna kill me if I talk to you,” the probable cause affidavit said.
Still awaiting trial is Kiahna Dade, 23, of Woodbridge, N.J., who is accused of assisting DeGrasse in his illegal business. As part of the plea agreement with DeGrasse, Dade will be allowed to receive a time-served sentence for her role, said District Attorney Matthew Weintraub, who prosecuted the case.
DeGrasse’s plea agreement also allows him one week to get his affairs in order before his sentence begins Oct. 4. He was released on $100,000 unsecured bail, his whereabouts monitored electronically via a cuff placed on his leg.