General Crime

Helen Kearney Singh sentenced nine years in prison for conspiring in the sex trafficking of teenage girls in Bay Area

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A Sacramento woman has been sentenced in federal court in Oakland to nine years in prison for conspiring in the sex trafficking of teenage girls. Helen Kearney Singh, 22, was sentenced Wednesday by U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton, who also ordered her to pay $45,000 in restitution to one of the victims. Singh and her husband, Mahendar Singh, 40, both pleaded guilty before Hamilton in January to a charge of conspiring to cause children under 18 to engage in commercial sex acts by means of force, fraud or coercion. Mahendar Singh was also sentenced by Hamilton to nine years in prison, at a separate proceeding in April.

The couple was arrested by South San Francisco police on Aug. 20, 2011, at a motel near San Francisco International Airport after police found a 19-year-old woman and two 16-year-old girls in a room registered to Mahendar Singh. A police spokesman said at the time that officers went to the motel after receiving a tip that a runaway girl had been seen near the property. U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said that at Wednesday’s sentencing, Helen Singh accepted responsibility for participating in a conspiracy involving the prostitution of teenage females.

A Dec. 1, 2011, grand jury indictment said the couple operated the prostitution enterprise in various locations between Sacramento and the Bay Area from April to August 2011, and used Internet websites to advertise the victims. The couple promised the teenage girls money, drugs and a family-like environment and controlled them by providing drugs and using physical force and threats of force, the indictment said.

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