July 26, 2017
Pratt was the first human trafficker convicted at trial in South Carolina
Columbia, South Carolina —- United States Attorney Beth Drake stated that Samuel Pratt, a/k/a “Promise,” age 35, of Gastonia, North Carolina was sentenced to life in federal prison and his mother, Daphne Pratt, age 53, of Gastonia, North Carolina was sentenced to 120 months in federal prison. Samuel Pratt had previously been found guilty on eight counts related to sex trafficking, child pornography, and firearm charges in federal court in Columbia. Chief United States District Judge Terry L. Wooten, of Columbia, sentenced the defendant to life sentences on four counts related to sex trafficking, 360 months on production of child pornography, 120 months on possessing child pornography, 120 months on being a felon in possession of a firearm and 60 months for obstruction of justice. There was also over $40,000 of restitution ordered to be paid to the child victims. Daphne Pratt pled guilty to conspiracy to sex traffic minors and testified against her son in his trial, receiving a reduced sentence for her testimony.
Evidence presented trial established that Samuel Pratt ran a prostitution business of both adults and juveniles, in South Carolina, North Carolina, and New York. The trial opened a window into the seedy world of human trafficking in the Carolinas. Witnesses provided extensive testimony of the manipulation and abuse, as well as the inner-workings of the human trafficking operation. During the trial, Daphne Pratt testified about her son’s control of the minors, as well as her role in running the business at his direction after her son was incarcerated on federal charges. Telephone calls recorded from the jail corroborated Daphne Pratt’s testimony and, along with text messages, provided the jury a view of the depraved world of sex traffickers. Two of the victims of the trafficking were 14 and 17 years old. This was the first human trafficker convicted at trial in South Carolina.
Ms. Drake stated, “the first step on addressing the cancer of human trafficking is to hold the traffickers accountable and that is what this case and this sentence does. Those who traffic in sex need to take notice that our office, along with our federal and state law enforcement partners, will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute all those who operate in this destructive field.”
The case was investigated by agents of the FBI of both South Carolina and North Carolina, the ATF, the US Marshals and Richland County Sheriff’s Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Jim May and Will Lewis of the Columbia Office prosecuted the case.