A New York man pleaded guilty Friday in federal court in Portland to six charges related to the sex trafficking of two women in 2015.
Vincent Graham, 34, who is serving a six-year sentence for drug trafficking at the Ulster Correctional Facility in Napanock, New York, entered guilty pleas to two counts each of sex trafficking of an adult by force, fraud and coercion; distribution of heroin and cocaine; and transporting a victim in interstate commerce with the intent that she engage in prostitution.
There is no plea agreement in the case.
A sentencing date has not been set.
Graham’s activities came to the attention of law enforcement Dec. 23, 2015, when a victim, identified in court documents only by the initials J.R., sought treatment at Southern Maine Medical Center in Biddeford after Graham assaulted her.
She told staff that she had been “living with a man who ‘beats her badly’ and for whom she works ‘selling her body,’” according to court documents. “She described having been hit in the face and being in pain. She reported that the man for [whom] she works provides her heroin, saying, ‘I’d rather die than keep going back to that man. He’s either going to kill me or I am going to kill myself.’”
By pleading guilty, Graham admitted that between July 10 and Aug. 26, 2015, and again from Dec. 8 to 22, 2015, he forced J.R. to engage in prostitution by either refusing to provide her with drugs, physically abusing her or threatening to kill her. He also admitted to taking J.R., whom he met in Biddeford, and another woman to New Hampshire and Massachusetts to work as prostitutes, according to prosecutors’ version of events to which Graham pleaded guilty.
Graham’s attorney, Peter Rodway of Portland, did not immediately return a request for comment Monday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Darcie McElwee declined to comment on Graham’s pleas. It is the practice of the office not to comment on pending cases.
The federal court system has continued to operate during the government shutdown by using savings to fund operations. The judiciary will run out of money Friday, according to information posted on the website for the U.S. District Court of Maine.
Federal prosecutors, who work for the U.S. Department of Justice, have worked without pay during the shutdown because the courts continued to operate.
Graham faces between 15 years and life in federal prison on the most serious charges of sex trafficking by force.
He is being held without bail while awaiting sentencing in Maine, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Portland. Once Graham is sentenced in federal court in Portland, he will be returned to New York to complete his sentence on drug charges. After that, he will begin serving the federal sentence for sex trafficking.
If you or someone you know needs resources or support related to sexual violence, contact the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s 24/7 hotline at 800-871-7741.