Sex Trafficking Defendant Pleads Guilty, Risks Life Sentence
The second of three Camden County defendants accused of inducing a young teen into sex with strangers for money pleads guilty, and risks 10 years to life in prison.
In Trenton, Aaron J. Gray, 29, of Camden, accepted a guilty plea to one count of sex trafficking of a minor, according to New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman's office.
Gray was previously charged with sex trafficking and conspiracy along with Aja M. Easley, 22 of Camden, and Kenneth A. Mertz, 35, of Collingswood. The indictment also charged Gray with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
At his scheduled January 2017 sentencing, Gray also faces a possible fine of up to $250,000.
Easley has a November 2016 sentencing date for her guilty plea to one count of sex trafficking of a minor.
Charges against Mertz remain accusations. Defendants are presumed innocent unless, and unitl, found guilty in a court of law.
According to information filed in the case, Easley established contact with the girl through a social media site on March 2, 2015, seemingly concerned about an assault ascribed to the victim's ex-boyfriend, and offering money, food, clothes and shelter.
Meeting the victim at the Camden Transportation Center, she introduced the victim to the idea of earning money through what she called a dating website.
Upon meeting Gray and Mertz in a house in Camden, the three set about advertising the minor on line as available for sex in exchange for money, and drove her to a Cherry Hill motel.
Gray and Easley convinced the girl to indulge in sex for cash, using a cell phone to capture salacious images and placing them on their online ad.
Easley fielded mutliple calls with her cell phone, instructing the victim to tell the johns that she was 21 years of age, and outliing the amount of time and the fees for each customer.
Gray also told the girl that he would be stationed outside with a gun in the event of trouble. The defendants divided the proceeds of the sessions with the victim.
At the defendants' instructions, the victim took part in more sex acts the following day, March 3, at a motel in Mount Laurel.
The same evening, they told her that they would transporter to Atlantic City, where another customer was willing to pay $1,200 for an entire evening. Gray had a semi-automatic firearm, authorities said.
En route, they let her stop at a house in Gloucester City, where she called police.
Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Brendan Day headed the prosecution. Gray was represented by attorney Andrea D. Bergman of the Public Defender's Office in Trenton.