Idaho teens victims in Portland prostitution ring

jsowell@idahostatesman.comApril 10, 2014 

Taquarius Kaream Ford sits in a luxury Bentley automobile that the alleged pimp used to impress young women. Prosecutors say he lured them with modeling contracts but made them work for him as prostitutes.

TAQUARIUSFORD.ORG

A man posing as a modeling executive recruited a teenager at an Idaho shopping mall, flew her to Los Angeles and took her to a party at the Playboy Mansion, then coerced her into working as a prostitute, according to documents filed in federal court in Portland.

When the 18-year-old protested, Taquarius Kaream Ford, 34, placed his hands around the woman's neck and raped her while calling her a "whore," federal prosecutors allege. He and an unidentified female co-defendant — who is considered a fugitive and is living in Ukraine — also threatened to harm the woman's family if she didn't go along with Ford's plan, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacie Beckerman wrote in court filings.

The woman was one of at least two recruited from a Treasure Valley shopping mall, Beckerman told the Idaho Statesman in an email.

"For now, we can only disclose that Ford and his co-defendant recruited victims (more than one in Idaho) at a shopping mall in the Boise area," Beckerman wrote. "We have not yet disclosed which mall, although I would also not be surprised if he hit more than one."

Ford is charged with conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking, sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion. Between September 2011 and June 2012, Ford is accused of trafficking the Idaho woman and at least two other women, one of whom was also raped, prosecutors said. It wasn’t clear Thursday whether those accusations include all the Idaho victims or if more charges are pending.

The Idaho woman detailed in court documents — which don’t specify her hometown — was brought to Portland to engage in prostitution. The woman was rescued, Beckerman wrote, because of the vigilance of a hotel clerk and a Port of Portland police officer.

On Wednesday, Magistrate Janice Stewart ordered Ford held without bond until his trial. Ford, who told Stewart he had grown up in the church, asked to be released from custody so he could prove he's a "good individual" and not the violent sex trafficker the government says he is, the Oregonian reported.

"Frankly, Mr. Ford,'' Stewart said in remarks quoted by the Portland newspaper, "your word doesn't mean much to me.''

The indictment was issued in January and Ford was arrested in late February in Florida, after arriving back in the United States following a trip to Sweden.

Ford is accused of visiting shopping centers in small towns in Idaho, Oregon and other locations and recruiting young women to sign up with a modeling agency. He took them to Los Angeles, wined and dined them and when the women agreed to join the modeling agency, Ford informed them he also ran an escort service and asked them to work as escorts. If the women refused, prosecutors said, he would threaten them and their families and beat and rape them.

After seizing Ford's laptop computer, federal investigators discovered a 38-page memoir entitled "Denial of a Pimp," where he detailed his exploits and criticized two high-profile madams — Heidi Fleiss and Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the so-called D.C. Madam — for the greed that led to their downfall.

While penning his own autobiography, Ford criticized Palfrey for keeping notes on the johns her prostitutes saw.

"How stupid was that," Ford wrote. "That's why I prefer to keep a small operation, stick and move so nobody knows what I do. Furthermore, this is why I've never liked to be catagorizing (sic) as a pimp!"

On his website, Ford described himself as an "Entrepreneur, Philanthropist & Financial Guru." He told readers to set proper goals and become experts in their fields.

"I went from working as a janitor to exceeding and taking advantage of the right opportunity," Ford wrote. "If a good opportunity presents itself, never be afraid to take advantage of it. Do remember, opportunity will knock and knock but if you don't answer the door, you may just miss it. Make a great effort to become an opportunist."

Federal investigators ask that anyone with information about Ford call the Portland FBI office at 503-224-4181.

John Sowell: 377-6423, Twitter: @IDS_Sowell

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