Florida prostitution boss sentenced to 60 years

William Foster.

William Foster.

Miami Dade Police Department

A South Florida man convicted of luring dozens of women to strip clubs and via the internet into his sex trafficking ring was sentenced to 60 years in prison this week.

William D. Foster, 50, who pleaded guilty earlier this year, was also ordered to pay his victims $14 million and another $3.4 million fine to the federal government for staging a racketeering prostitution in Florida and other states over the past 20 years.

Prosecutors said during Foster’s sentencing Monday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale that he used manipulation, lies and threats to coerce his victims into commercial sex so he could enrich himself.

“Foster told the victims he would invest their earnings so they could retire in their twenties, which was not true,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami. “Foster forced the victims to work eight hours a day, six days a week, every week of the year and kept all their money.”

Prosecutors said Foster had sex with numerous victims, some of whom were underage girls, during the defendant’s sentencing hearing before U.S. District Judge Raag Singhal. They also said he transported some victims to other states, including New York, New Jersey, Michigan and Nevada, as he expanded his prostitution business beyond South Florida.

Foster even tried to expand his business by launching “Foster Care,” which featured a website and promised to help victims of sex trafficking, prosecutors said. But his scheme was to lure them into his prostitution racket, according to Assistant US Attorney Jessica Obenauf.

Foster, represented by defense attorney David Howard, was arrested in late 2019 and pleaded guilty in March to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and several other counts. Two of his co-conspirators – Ashleigh Holloway, 37, of Fort Lauderdale, and Hanah Chan, 32, of Delray Beach – pleaded guilty to bank fraud charges in connection with the sex trafficking operation and are expected to be sentenced Friday.

The FBI opened the investigation in February 2017 when two women contacted agents and said they had been recruited by Foster when they were teenagers, authorities said.

Foster was the head of the sex trafficking operation and would exploit women and underage girls for profit, according to court records. Holloway and Chan, who were two of Foster’s trusted “main daughters”, helped Foster traffick at least one of his victims for sex, investigators said.

Foster used “presentations of a fun, wealthy lifestyle as a means of recruiting new women,” according to a criminal complaint and an FBI affidavit.

His victims, women and underage girls, would then be sent to work in strip clubs across Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County, according to the affidavit. They would also be forced to have sex with clients and Foster. He would also send them around the country to strip clubs to entertain customers, including in New York, Las Vegas and Detroit.

One of his victims was recruited aged 17 while in foster care in August 2007 and was trafficked by Foster until May 2010, according to the affidavit. Another victim told officers she was “kidnapped by an abusive pimp” and was forced to work at a strip club known as Gold Rush, 7770 Biscayne Blvd. in Miami, when she met Foster in the club’s VIP champagne room in August 2004.

The women and girls who lived with Foster had designer clothes, handbags, shoes and drove high-end cars: a Ferrari, Cadillac Escalade, Mercedes-Benz and Chevy Corvette, according to the affidavit. from the FBI. He put them on “lemon diets,” paid for their cosmetic surgeries, and took them to yacht parties and dinner parties to meet wealthy clients. They were also taught to recruit minors and young women from group homes, shelters and strip clubs where Foster said they would be ‘vulnerable and in need of help’, according to the affidavit. from the FBI.

As part of his prostitution ring, he ran Foster’s Care Inc., a nonprofit corporation that named Foster as president and was based out of a house in North Miami. The non-profit organization claimed to provide “social services, counselling, shelter and education to youth and young adults in the tri-county area,” according to the affidavit. In September 2019, investigators also found and seized www.fosterscareinc.com, a website that claimed to work with police and the FBI to provide protection for victims of sex trafficking.

The site also claimed to offer free services, including housing, therapy, medical care and job training, and encouraged victims of sex trafficking to contact the organization for help. In fact, investigators said the website was used for child sex trafficking by “force, fraud or coercion”.

Jay Weaver writes about federal crime at the crossroads of South Florida and Latin America. Since joining the Miami Herald in 1999, he’s covered the federal courts non-stop, from Elian’s custody battle to A-Rod’s steroid abuse. He was part of the Herald team that won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news on the seizure of Elian by federal agents. He and three Herald colleagues were finalists for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting for a series on gold smuggling between South America and Miami.

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