PORTLAND, Maine — A Massachusetts man charged with taking three women from Maine to Boston to work as prostitutes was found guilty in federal court Thursday of aiding and abetting the transportation of a person or persons across state lines for prostitution.
The jury convicted Fritz “Fred” Blanchard, 29, after a four-day trial presided over by Judge Nancy Torresen in U.S. District Court.
Blanchard’s co-defendant, Samuel C. Gravely, 27, of Portland, pleaded guilty to one count of transportation in interstate commerce for prostitution in November 2013 for his role in the incident. Gravely is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 23.
According to court documents, on at least two occasions in March 2013, Blanchard, who is nicknamed “Shake,” and Gravely, who is known as “Bigs,” brought a woman from Presque Isle to Bangor for prostitution.
The woman’s services were reportedly advertised on backpage.com under the “Maine Escorts” section, with a photo taken at a motel in Bangor where guest records show Gravely rented a room.
Backpage.com is a website that allows people to post classified advertisements, including ones for “adult services,” such as escorts.
On March 26 and 27, 2013, Blanchard, Gravely and the woman were in Portland, and the men rented a motel room, took pictures of the woman and posted them to backpage.com.
On March 27 and 28, the two men went into downtown Portland and enlisted another woman into prostitution. They also invited a third woman to travel with them to Boston. She thought she would be sightseeing and shopping in the Hub, according to a previously published report.
When the three women arrived in Boston, Blanchard reserved a hotel room for them to use as a base of operations for prostitution, according to an affidavit filed by Special Agent Anthony Castellanos of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Blanchard allegedly took the woman who thought she was in Boston to go shopping and sightseeing to a section of the city known to be a place where prostitutes gather, told her to try and get cars to stop for her, explained how much to charge for different sexual acts and demanded she bring all the money she made back to him.
At that point, according to court documents, the woman allegedly feigned illness and asked to be brought back to the hotel.
When Blanchard brought her back to the hotel, she snuck down to the lobby and called Boston police, who responded and also contacted their counterparts in Portland, Castellanos said.
Blanchard and Gravely were charged in federal court in Portland on Oct. 21. Gravely was arrested the next day. Blanchard was arrested in Massachusetts on Dec. 10. The circumstances surrounding their arrests are not included in court documents.
Both men face up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.
BDN staff reporters Judy Harrison and Seth Koenig contributed to this story.