SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — A woman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking in federal court Wednesday and could be sentenced to life in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Springfield resident 32-year-old Virginia Maldonado pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. A sentencing date has been scheduled for June 3.
Maldonado was initially charged back in December 2018, when she conspired with William Coleman, who operated a prostitution business that used violence and the drug addictions of female victims to coerce them into engaging in commercial sex acts with paying customers, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
The victims were typically required to turn over all of their earnings to Coleman who also controlled their daily lives. Most of the women were not allowed to keep any of the money they earned, and they were only to get the drugs they needed from Coleman.
In most cases, the victims were addicted to heroin, the court said.
Coleman pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and nine counts of sex trafficking and was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison in September 2020.
Maldanado told authorities she agreed to help manage the business for a 30-day period while Coleman was serving a short jail term, and that she took instructions from Coleman while he was in jail. She also admitted she took pictures of some of the victims to be used in prostitution advertisements.
Another co-conspirator, 36-year-old Shannon Yelinek of Springfield, also pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. She is scheduled to be sentenced a day after Maldanado on June 4, 2021.
Both women could spend life in prison with the charge of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking provides for a sentence of up to life in prison, along with a lifetime of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.