Mann Act Cited in RI Interstate Prostitution Conspiracy Involving “Rah Rah” and “Big Mama”

Rhode Island- from – A federal grand jury in Providence has charged Nathan G. Pope and Jan M. Wales, both of Indianapolis with transporting an individual across state lines to engage in prostitution, in violation of the Mann Act.

United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha [pictured] and Bruce M. Foucart, Special Agent in Charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) jointly announced a two-count indictment, which the grand jury returned on January 27 but which was placed under seal until Pope’s arraignment today.

Pope pleaded not guilty before Magistrate Judge David L. Martin, who ordered him detained. A warrant has been issued for Wales’ arrest.

According to the indictment, Pope and Wales engaged in a conspiracy to bring two women from Indiana to the East Coast to engage in prostitution. The indictment alleges that Pope told a person identified in the indictment as S.M. that she worked for and belonged to him and he would hurt her family if she didn’t engage in acts of prostitution for his and Wales’ benefit.

In late December, Wales allegedly told S.M. that she and another woman would travel with Pope from Indiana to East Coast cities to engage in prostitution. At one point, according to the indictment, while Pope was driving the two women east, S.M tried to leave the car at a location in Ohio. Pope allegedly warned her, “…you can’t run away from me, I know where you live,” and, “You don’t know me, you don’t know what I’m capable of.”

The indictment alleges that, in a hotel room in Warwick on December 28, S.M. engaged in an act of prostitution that Pope and Wales had arranged. Afterward, S.M. gave Pope $200 of $250 that she had been paid, according to the indictment. The indictment also alleges that, while at the Warwick hotel, Pope punched S.M. in the face twice.

Following an investigation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Warwick Police, the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office, and other agencies, agents arrested Pope in December on a federal complaint. Charges brought against another woman in that complaint were dismissed today.

The indictment charges Pope, 47, who is also known as “Rah Rah,” and Wales, 44, also known as “Big Mama,” with conspiracy and transporting an individual in interstate commerce for the purposes of prostitution. An indictment is merely an allegation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. In the event of a conviction, the maximum penalty for transporting a person interstate for prostitution would be ten years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for conspiracy is five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.

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