NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A 34-year-old Norfolk man was convicted on Thursday afternoon on charges of sex trafficking, fraud, conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine and other drugs, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
LeAnthony Winston, a six-time convicted felon, was released from state prison in December 2019 for firearm and drug convictions. Once he was released, he obtained another firearm and began to traffic methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, and cocaine base.
Court documents show that from March through May 2020, Winston trafficked two women in Norfolk. He would use false promises of love, protection, threats and violence to coerce them into engaging in commercial sex.
Winston’s co-conspirator, Tonya Hardesty, 37, of Norfolk, trained the women, created advertisements, and set up commercial sex “dates” with clients. Winston, meanwhile, set the prices and kept all of the proceeds.
Additionally, Winston distributed drugs to the women, including methamphetamine and crack, to keep them awake so that they could have as many “dates” as possible and so that they would be indebted to him for the cost of the drugs.
Police responded to the Ocean View Inn Motel in Norfolk after Winston beat, choked, and threatened to kill one of the women in a dispute about money. Following the April 2020 incident, the woman said she was assaulted by her “pimp.”
As police searched the hotel room, police located a second woman and a loaded handgun. Winston was arrested and referred to Norfolk detectives for further investigation.
Police say he had approximately 16.8 grams of crack cocaine on him at the time of his arrest.
While in custody, Winston continued to coerce the second woman to engage in commercial sex, claiming that he would be out on a bond soon. Police say he continued to threaten her over a jail call.
The man faces a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison. He is set to be sentenced on March 7, 2022.