A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office:
Two Aspiring Rappers Charged with Operating Sex-Trafficking Ring in Chicago and Suburbs
CHICAGO — Two members of a Chicago-area rap group have been charged with using violence and coercion to force females to engage in prostitution, federal authorities announced today.
SAMUEL NICHOLS and CHARLES FEARS are each charged with one count of engaging in sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. The pair worked together to recruit females, including minors, to engage in the commercial sex business, the complaint states.
In order to solicit customers, Nichols and Fears posted advertisements on the website Backpage.com that featured photographs of the females wearing lingerie and posing in sexual positions, according to the complaint. Nichols and Fears provided the females with cellular telephones and instructed them to answer calls and schedule meetings with Backpage.com customers, according to the complaint. The meetings primarily occurred in motels in various suburbs, including
- Downers Grove
according to the complaint.
After performing sex acts for money, the females gave the proceeds to Nichols and Fears, the complaint states.
Fears, 22, of Chicago, was arrested this morning. He made an initial court appearance today and is scheduled for a detention hearing at 11:00 am on January 22, 2016 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kim.
Nichols, 30, formerly of Chicago, was arrested in Tennessee and ordered removed in custody to Chicago.
According to the complaint, Nichols and Fears carried firearms and would often hit, slap and choke the females who worked for them, including one incident in which Nichols beat a female so badly she had to be hospitalized.
The pair also supplied the females with drugs and alcohol to help them participate in committing the sex acts, the complaint states.
According to the complaint, Nichols and Fears are members of a Chicago-area rap music group called “Hit Squad.” The group, not to be confused with the 1990s East Coast-based hip hop collective of the same name, posts videos of their music on websites such as YouTube.com, the complaint states.
The charge of sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion is punishable by a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
The charges were announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Carol Stream Police Department, in coordination with the Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah Streicker, Michelle Petersen and Libby Pozolo.