Former Wheaton mall security guard pleads guilty to sex trafficking of girl, 16 -- Gazette.Net



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The former Westfield Wheaton mall security guard who recruited teenage mall patrons into his prostitution service pleaded guilty to sex trafficking of a juvenile today in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, according to prosecutors.

Cooper Kweme, 31, of the 400 block of Hannes Avenue in Silver Spring, admitted to contacting a 16-year-old girl from Arlington, Va., in February to work as a prostitute after meeting her on Tagged, an online social network targeted at teens, according to the criminal complaint.

While the maximum sentence for a juvenile sex trafficking charge is life in prison, prosecutors agreed to recommend a lower sentence under the terms of Kweme’s plea agreement.

“The government agreed that it would recommend the mandatory minimum of 10 years at sentencing in October,” said Peter Carr, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office. “We can only make a recommendation, however; [U.S. District Court Judge Anthony J. Trenga] will make a final determination based on what he sees fit.”

Sentencing was set for Oct. 21, Carr said.

Jeffrey C. Corey, Kweme’s defense attorney, could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

Kweme, who also goes by Jason Pathers and Jason Forhee, was also facing charges for transporting a minor to engage in prostitution and the production of child pornography when he was indicted July 25, but those charges were dropped under the terms of the plea agreement, Carr said.

Kweme ran The Empire Service in Washington, D.C., Virginia and Maryland from October until his arrest, according to federal court documents filed in Alexandria. Prosecutors said Kweme ordered the victim to have sex for money with eight men in Virginia and Maryland in April. She said in the complaint that she was once threatened by Kweme with a Taser in a hotel parking lot.

The girl said she believed Kweme was a law enforcement officer because he wore a blue or black uniform with a bulletproof vest with the word “police” printed on it and carried a gun, according to the complaint.

Kweme posted sexually explicit photographs of the girl online, according to the indictment. He was arrested by Arlington County Police on June 1.

jarias@gazette.net