Moments before a Montgomery County judge sentenced him to a year and a half in jail on a pimping and prostitution charge, Jermaine Jack talked about why he needed to change: his 13-year-old son, Jovontae.
“He’s going to be my reason,” Jack said Friday.
Jack, of Reno, Nev., had been arrested in Montgomery County in August 2012 on three pimping and prostitution charges and three other charges related to his operation. He agreed in April to plead guilty to one of the charges.
Court records and prosecutors detailed a sophisticated operation in which the 33-year-old man crisscrossed the country with as many as three prostitutes, renting rooms for them in hotels, and then posting advertisements for them on Backpage.com.
He flaunted an extravagant lifestyle, posting pictures of his wealth on Facebook and bragging in a video.
Assistant State’s Attorney Patrick Mays said a Montgomery County detective posted on Backpage.com, warning potential johns that Jack was wanted on human trafficking charges. Jack saw the detective’s post, called him and swore at him.
Jack spent seven months in a jail in Atlantic City, N.J., waiting to be tried on prostitution charges there, before those charges were dismissed, Mays said. When Jack got out, he posted a picture of himself on Facebook.
“Eight months with no sunlight will do that to a pimp,” he wrote in the picture.
Megan Coleman, Jack’s defense attorney, painted a different picture. Jack exploited his victims, she admitted. But he did not force them to do anything.
“This is not a case where women were enslaved or abducted. ... We’re truly of the mindset this was the occupation they wanted to have,” she said.
While the women he prostituted were victims, she said, he never abducted anyone, or had a minor in his captivity. He took them on trips, and they’d go water skiing together. One of Jack’s three prostitutes was also his girlfriend, she said.
In court, Jack told Montgomery County Circuit Judge Richard E. Jordan that the lifestyle he flaunted before left him “ashamed.”
“[Jovontae] has these questions, and sometimes I can’t answer them. ... It’s just crushing me,” he said.
Jovontae and his mother, Regina Johnson, flew from Las Vegas to support Jack, even though he no longer lives with them.
Johnson said they came to support him because he was a good father. He moved from California to Nevada to be near them, she said, and he routinely drove the seven hours from Reno to Las Vegas to visit his son.
“He’s always been there. We’re just trying to be there for him now,” she said.
“My son is no longer happy,” she told Jordan.
“If you can, just give him the least possible sentence,” Jovontae begged Jordan.
“I don’t want you to think [your father]’s a victim ... because he’s not. That’s the truth,” Jordan told the boy.
Jack had agreed to plead guilty to one count of human trafficking, and a plea deal that would have had him serving five years in prison. But Coleman, his attorney, asked Jordan to sentence Jack to a lesser term in a Montgomery County jail instead, so he could continue participating in the rehabilitation programs at that facility.
In a move that surprised prosecutors, Jordan agreed. He sentenced Jack to 10 years, suspending all but 18 months. Jack did not get any credit for the five months he has already spent behind bars in Montgomery County jail.
“The judge has the preogative to mete out a sentence that has rehabilitative aspects. ... Our hope is that [Jack] will use those months productively,” county State’s Attorney spokesman Ramon Korionoff said after the sentencing.
“I want a lot of time hanging over your head when you get out of jail,” Jordan said, explaining the sentence to Jack.
“The other reason is because of your son. ... It’s probably tougher on him if I gave you the maximum than it would be on you.”