#minorsextrafficking | ‘I’m not social distancing, that is so stupid’; Accused human trafficker wants release from prison due to COVID concerns

A Boston man facing numerous human trafficking charges in federal court wants to be released from pre-trial detention claiming he has medical conditions that make him susceptible to COVID-19, but prosecutors contend he was caught on a jail recording saying he wasn’t social distancing.

Bruce A. Brown, 41, of Dorchester, was indicted on numerous charges of sex trafficking by force, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, attempted witness tampering and sex trafficking of a minor in a Massachusetts federal court.

A 42-year-old Rehoboth woman, Muriel Close, was also indicted on a conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. Authorities say her indictment came “based on her conduct involving three victims” in the case.

Brown is accused of sex trafficking five women over a period of 15 years beginning in June 2004 and continuing to December 2019. Based on court records, Brown is accused of trafficking the women in Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Hawaii, Nevada and Pennsylvania.

Brown has been in federal custody since February.

Authorities accuse Brown of trying to influence a victim’s testimony and tamper with witnesses in his case since he has been in federal custody. Brown, prosecutors claim, called this scheme, “Plan B.”

Currently held at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Rhode Island, Brown claims he should be released under conditions while his case continues in court. Brown claims he has a history of chronic hypertension, asthma and is pre-diabetic, according to a filing from his lawyer Daniel Reilly asking Brown be released due to COVID-19 concerns.

“Congregate settings such as jails and prisons allow for rapid spread of infectious diseases that are transmitted person to person, especially those passed by droplets through coughing and sneezing,” Brown’s lawyer contends. “In prison people are confined in close proximity to one another and to staff.”

As seen in other cases, the lawyer argues incarcerated people with existing health conditions are at an elevated risk to get coronavirus. The government said there have been 2,143 tests done on 522 inmates.

“Continued incarceration seriously jeopardizes his health and life,” the defense lawyer wrote.

Reilly proposed placing Brown on around-the-clock home detention, specifically an uncle’s home in Boston, and to electronically monitor Brown. Reilly said his client would have no access to electronic devices and agree to random searches.

Brown, the lawyer contends, is not a danger to the community.

A federal prosecutor and a member of an FBI Human Trafficking/Child Exploitation Task Force argue Brown has been trying to tamper with victims and witnesses since he has been in custody.

The federal prosecutor also contends Brown has not shown any real concern while in prison about wearing a mask or social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Newton Police Department Police Officer Kathleen Doyle, who is assigned to an FBI Human Trafficking/Child Exploitation Task Force, wrote in a court affidavit that Brown had people attempt to contact witnesses and victims.

Brown, one witness told police, planned to “take people out who were involved in the case.”

Doyle said in jail recordings, Brown is caught directing people to tamper with witnesses in his case and told another person to contact a victim to influence her testimony.

One person contacted a victim on Brown’s behalf. The person told the victim, “He wants to make sure you stay close to him until the case is over. He wants you to write a letter saying you guys are cool, you ain’t got no beef, no drama.”

The call was recorded by investigators.

Federal prosecutor Mackenzie A. Queenin, said Brown is facing a potential life sentence on many of the charges he was indicted on. The prosecutor notes Brown’s history of 52 felonies and 42 misdemeanor charges on his record.

Each victim will testify about “Brown’s methodical exertion and maintenance of control over them through his use of force, fraud and coercion in connection with the charges offenses,” the prosecutor said.

At least one victim is a minor, authorities said.

Brown has no job history and instead trafficked women for sex, authorities said. While prosecutors have not disclosed the names of the victims, the prosecutor points out in a court filing that Brown had someone contact one victim.

Brown’s claim that he is susceptible to COVID, shouldn’t outweigh that he is a danger to the community, Queenin said. The prosecutor said Brown had not provided any medical documents to support his claim and admitted in a jail recording that he never used an inhaler.

“Further, based upon the defendant’s recorded jail calls, it strains credulity to believe he is concerned about contracting the coronavirus,” the prosecutor said. “The defendant has stated that he has not been wearing his mask and/or has not been wearing his mask properly.”

In recorded jail calls, he told someone he was not wearing his mask or that it was on but just hanging off of an ear.

“I’m not social distancing, that is so stupid, that is so dumb man,” Brown is caught saying on jail recordings.

A hearing on Brown’s request to be released was held last week. The matter is still being reviewed by a judge.


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