SANTA ANA, Calif. – A Fresno man was convicted and sentenced to five years in state prison today for pimping a woman and trafficking a minor teenage girl in Costa Mesa. Marice Lavell Curry, 25, pleaded guilty to one felony count of human trafficking of a minor, one felony count of pandering a minor over 16 years old by procuring, one felony count of pimping, and one felony count of pandering. In addition to prison, Curry was sentenced to mandatory lifetime sex offender registration.
Co-defendant Donald Ray Phelps Jr., 23, Fresno, pleaded guilty on Dec. 7, 2016, to one felony count of conspiracy to pander. He was sentenced to six years in state prison, suspended pending successful completion of five years of formal probation.
Circumstances of the Case
Between May 13, 2016, and June 4, 2016, Curry trafficked 17-year-old Jane Doe 1 and arranged for her engage in commercial sex, keeping money she received from sex purchasers for his own use. The defendants pandered Jane Doe 2 by persuading her to engage in commercial sex. Curry used money the victims received on hotel rooms and travel expenses.
On the night of June 4, 2016, Curry drove Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2 to an area of Costa Mesa known for prostitution and human trafficking to solicit sex purchasers. The defendants parked their vehicle in a motel parking lot, and Costa Mesa Police Department (CMPD) officers contacted Jane Doe 2 in a motel room. Officers located the defendants and Jane Doe 1 inside the vehicle a short time later and arrested Curry and Phelps.
Members of the OCHTTF and the Orange County District Attorney’s (OCDA) Office work proactively to protect women and minors from falling victim to commercial sexual exploitation. This case was investigated by OCHTTF, a partnership between Anaheim Police Department, California Highway Patrol, Costa Mesa Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Huntington Beach Police Department, Irvine Police Department, Newport Beach Police Department, OCDA, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Santa Ana Police Department, and community and non-profit partners.
Deputy District Attorney Juliet Oliver of the HEAT Unit prosecuted this case.
Proposition 35 and HEAT
To read more about California’s anti-human trafficking Proposition 35 and the OCDA’s Human Exploitation and Trafficking (HEAT) Unit, please visit www.orangecountyda.org and select Human Trafficking Information from the Media Center drop down menu.
Orange County District Attorney / Case # 16WF1188 / December 19, 2016