Jury Convicts Virginia Felon On Sex Traffic, Drug Charges

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A federal jury has convicted a six-time convicted felon from Virginia on multiple charges, including sex trafficking and being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

LeAnthony Winston, 34, of Norfolk, trafficked two women in early 2020 and coerced them into engaging in commercial sex, according to a news release from prosecutors announcing his Thursday conviction.

Prosecutors also said Winston’s co-conspirator trained the women, created advertisements, and set up commercial sex “dates” with clients while Winston set the prices and kept the proceeds.

Winston was arrested in April 2020 after authorities said Norfolk police responded to a motel where he had beaten, choked, and threatened to kill one of the women over money. After Winston was arrested, he continued to coerce the second female to engage in commercial sex and threatened her over a jail call, authorities said.

Court records and evidence presented at Winston trial said that when he was released from prison in December 2019 for firearm and drug convictions, he got another firearm and began to traffic drugs, the news release said.

Winston faces a mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison when he's sentenced in March. Tonya Hardesty, 37, of Norfolk, whom prosecutors idenfied as his co-conspirator, pleaded guilty to promotion of prostitution in May and will be sentenced in December, the news release said.