One defendant in a federal indictment of 30 Somali immigrants accused of sex trafficking entered a plea deal with the federal government Monday morning.
Abdifitah Adan was charged with two counts of trafficking teenagers and one count of making a false statement to a government agency in connection with a sex trafficking ring. The plea agreement, which was entered Monday morning, dismissed the trafficking charges in exchange for a guilty plea on the false statement charge. The court accepted the plea deal “subject to determinations that have to be made at the time of sentencing."
Adan’s “lawyer’s estimate” on the jail time was 12 to 18 months and a fine between $1,000 to $10,000, according to court filings. The human trafficking charges carried maximum life sentences.
A sentencing hearing for Adan has been set for June 15.
Former U.S. District Judge for Middle Tennessee Robert Echols told The City Paper in January that it would be unusual if the case went to trial without any pleas.
“The government’s process — I’m just looking from the outside, but I’ve looked through that tunnel a lot — is they oftentimes will nibble around the edges and look and see what people on the fringes know about the case. They usually look at those people to gather information about people in the center,” Echols said about a possible strategy for the prosecution. “It’s kind of like building a spider web. … Oftentimes that will crash in, and you’ll see [a defendant] that really gets nervous [and pleads guilty].”
The trial, which was recently severed down to 15 defendants, was also postponed on Monday to give defendants and their lawyers more time to prepare for the cross examination of one of the victims.
Court documents show that the trial convened for more than an hour this morning before Judge William Haynes decided to resume the case with opening arguments on April 2.