A 52-year-old New Orleans man pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of human trafficking and accepted a 20-year prison sentence in a case involving two teenage girls forced into prostitution.
David “Midas” Lee faced a possible life prison term on two counts of trafficking children and a firearms count if convicted in a trial that was scheduled to start Thursday. He pled instead to the lesser charges.
A co-defendant, Brandy Piland-Deluca, still awaits trial on two counts of trafficking children for sex.
Lee and Piland-Deluca, 24, sent two girls, ages 14 and 16, from San Antonio to New Orleans around Mardi Gras in February 2010 for purposes of prostitution, according to an arrest warrant application from State Trooper Justin Berry.
One of the girls later told FBI agents that she’d met Lee in Houston and was forced to give him all the money she made. Lee also began having sex with her, she said.
Lee, then 47, told her “that he knew she was a minor, but there was just something about her that he could not resist,” Berry wrote.
Lee took the girl to meet Piland-Deluca, also a prostitute, in Austin, and they picked up the second girl in San Antonio. All four traveled in Lee’s 2002 Buick Regal to New Orleans in February 2010, renting a room at the La Quinta Inn on Camp Street, the affidavit states.
Both girls were arrested shortly after they arrived in New Orleans. The first girl soon called her sister in Slidell, prompting a call to New Orleans police. Officers picked up the girls in the hotel room but not the adults.
In early 2013, the first girl was booked again for prostitution in New Orleans. That’s when she told her story and identified Lee and Piland-Deluca in photo lineups.
She also said she was trying to enter Harrah’s Casino in late 2012 when she saw Piland-Deluca running toward her. Lee pulled up in a Cadillac sedan and they took the girl back to their Uptown home and tried to persuade her to work as a prostitute for them again, Berry wrote.
The FBI tracked down the second girl in San Antonio. She corroborated the first girl’s story and told authorities that Lee had photographed her for an online escort ad.
Lee and Piland-Deluca were booked in early 2013.
Lee’s 20-year sentence, handed down by retired Criminal District Court Judge Calvin Johnson, is the maximum under the human trafficking statute.