A Ventnor man has pleaded guilty to a human trafficking charge following an investigation that revealed he was operating a male prostitution ring from his apartment in the city.

40-year-old Marc A. Branch of Ventnor pleaded guilty yesterday to a charge of second-degree conspiracy to commit human trafficking. Under a plea agreement, the state will recommend that Branch be sentenced to five years in state prison.

Branch was indicted last October following an investigation that revealed he lured troubled young men to his apartment on North Newport Avenue by offering them money, drugs, companionship and, in some cases, shelter.  Prosecutors say Branch prostituted those young men, including at least one minor, to male clients who paid as much as $200 per sex act. Branch solicited male clients in advertisements on Craigslist featuring naked photos of the young men.

Francis H. Forvour of Maple Shade, a client of the ring, also pleaded guilty yesterday to second-degree conspiracy to commit human trafficking. In pleading guilty, Forvour admitted that he paid Branch to engage in sex with young male prostitutes and agreed to aid Branch with his prostitution ring by providing financial support.