A Malvern woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal charge of conspiring to commit sex trafficking by force, acknowledging that in 2013 and 2014, she ran the "prostitution division" of a Little Rock man's money-making commercial sex operation.
Marjorie Lee, 24, also known as "Candy" and "Mar Mar," admitted she was Nathaniel Smith's "main girl," which involved soliciting women for his operation and helping enforce his rules, even if it meant assaulting other women.
Smith, 37, is serving a 10-year prison sentence after pleading guilty late last year to a federal charge of transporting a woman across state lines to engage in prostitution. The sentence was negotiated with federal prosecutors, who in return dropped six other charges that could have subjected him to up to 27 years in prison if convicted by a jury.
Lee faces up to five years in prison when she is sentenced in about three months, after a presentence investigation is completed. She told U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker on Tuesday that allegations outlined by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristin Bryant were accurate.
Bryant said that April 29, 2014, Little Rock police set up an undercover operation at the Atria Inn at 6100 S. University Ave., two days after detective Jennifer Hurd received information that three women, including Lee, were working as prostitutes for Smith. Bryant said police found Smith and one of the women at the hotel, and that calls or texts on the woman's cellphone from "Mar Mar" led to Lee's arrest.
Bryant said the woman, who also was from Malvern and knew Lee, told authorities that she ran into Lee in 2013, and that Lee suggested she could alleviate her financial difficulties and "make a lot of money" prostituting herself for Smith. The woman, who wasn't charged, told police she began working for Smith as a prostitute, but when she quit and returned to Malvern, Lee went after her on Smith's behalf and took her back to Little Rock.
The woman told police that Lee was often mean to her and the other "girls" in Smith's prostitution ring and would "tell on them" if they got out of line.
In exchange for Lee's guilty plea to the new charge, Bryant asked Baker to dismiss previous charges against Lee that carried more serious penalties.
At the request of defense attorney Richard Hughes of Little Rock, the judge agreed to allow Lee to remain free until her sentencing, albeit on home detention at her mother's house in Malvern. Baker agreed to remove the electronic monitoring that Lee has been on for several months.
Metro on 11/11/2015
Print Headline: Ran 'prostitution division,' Malvern woman tells judge