Sacramento, California - U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley sentenced Percy Love III, 34, of Sacramento, to 35 years in prison for five counts of sex trafficking related to multiple victims, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced.

On December 23, 2014, after an 11-day trial, a federal jury found Love guilty of three counts of sex trafficking by force and one count of sex trafficking of a minor.

U.S. Attorney Wagner stated: “This defendant forced his will upon weaker people for profit using threats and violence. Percy Love should spend the next several decades reflecting on how his abuse and humiliation of his victims has resulted in a life behind bars. He is a dangerous predator and the sentence imposed today will protect society from him.”

This case was the product of an investigation by the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force, a multijurisdictional task force composed of representatives from the FBI and the Sacramento Police Department, with assistance from the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Michele Beckwith and Jason Hitt prosecuted the case.

“Percy Love strategically preyed upon vulnerable young women and underage girls, luring them into a cycle of exploitation, brutal violence, and intimidation for his financial benefit. He exhibited complete disregard for the wellbeing of his victims and the laws. Today’s sentence will not erase the physical and emotional scars Love inflicted upon his victims but it will offer them time to heal,” said Special Agent in Charge Monica M. Miller of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Sacramento field office. “Our Innocence Lost Task Force, which includes officers from the Sacramento Police Department, is committed to identifying men and women who exploit our community’s most vulnerable adults and children.”

Sacramento Police Chief Sam Somers Jr. stated: “Due to a coordinated effort of various dedicated law enforcement detectives, this predator will no longer have the opportunity to exploit or harm young women in our community. The conviction of Mr. Love sends a strong, clear message that this type of criminal conduct will not be tolerated in our communities.”

Two victims appeared at the sentencing hearing and described the lasting impact that the defendant’s crimes had on their lives. In sentencing the defendant, Judge Nunley described the defendant as a “gorilla pimp” who had attempted to beat the spirit out of his victims and, based on the trial evidence, earned every year that he would serve in prison.

According to evidence produced at trial, Love targeted vulnerable young women and underage girls to work as prostitutes for him since at least 2007. The testimony of witnesses at trial, including the victims, revealed a pattern of conduct where Love used charm to recruit and brute force to control the women and girls who worked for him.

According to court documents, on July 22, 2013, Sacramento police officers were called to a report of domestic violence and found Love asleep in the front seat of a car with a woman, whose sister had called in the report. The woman explained to officers that she was in a “working relationship” with Love. She reported that Love had beaten her many times, and she had bruises and cigarette burns on her hand, arm and stomach. Love was arrested that night for domestic violence and possession of Ecstasy.

On September 12, 2013, a federal grand jury indicted Love, charging him with two counts of sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion. After further investigation revealed more victims, a superseding indictment was brought on March 13, 2014. Love has been in custody since his arrest and represented himself during trial.