A Topeka man was sentenced Monday to nearly four years in prison for his part in a sex trafficking ring that operated in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska, according to federal prosecutors.
Barry M. Johnson, 40, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. In his plea, he admitted to conspiring with several co-defendants to run an interstate prostitution business based in Topeka.
Johnson was one of seven Topeka residents charged in 2015 and accused of playing a role in the operation, which at times employed about 20 women and a 17-year-old girl.
According to court records, the group sought out women, including some at homeless shelters, who needed money or a place to live. The leader of the organization rented houses where some of the women were allowed to live. The organization used websites, social media and cellphones to advertise sexual services and to keep track of the women.
Johnson admitted that he recruited and groomed potential sex workers for the organization. Johnson would notify the leader of the conspiracy he had a woman who was ready to work, and they would negotiate how much he would be paid.
Among the defendants are Frank Boswell, 43, who is accused of leading the group and faces trial on March 7. Boswell has been the owner of a Topeka lawn care business and a part owner of the now-closed Club Magic in Lawrence. A onetime manager of the club, Sean P. Hall, 46, has been convicted and awaits sentencing.
Others working their way through the courts include Michaela Hekekia, 37, who is set for sentencing March 20; Shannon Nelson, 23, Topeka, set for sentencing May 1; and Rachel Flenniken, 34, who is awaiting sentencing.
An indictment against a seventh person, Andre C. Rhoiney, was dismissed in July.