Skip to main content

Essex County Woman Pleads Guilty to Human Trafficking Charge for Helping Traffic Girl, 16, from New York to New Jersey for Prostitution

By rlsmetro on
Orange

TRENTON –Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that an Essex County woman has pleaded guilty to a human trafficking charge for her role in prostituting a 16-year-old girl who was trafficked from New York to New Jersey as part of a prostitution ring that advertised on Backpage.com.

Ernestine Bowman, 32, of Orange, N.J., pleaded guilty late yesterday to a charge of second-degree facilitating human trafficking before Superior Court Judge Frances McGrogan in Bergen County. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Bowman be sentenced to 10 years in state prison, including 39 months of parole ineligibility.

Bowman is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 23.

Deputy Attorneys General Brandy Malfitano and Jamie Picard took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau, Human Trafficking Unit.

Bowman was indicted in April 2015 along with four other defendants, including her husband and her son, as a result of an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and the South Hackensack Police Department. The defendants allegedly conspired to traffic the 16-year-old girl from Brooklyn, N.Y., to northern New Jersey and make her work as a prostitute at motels in South Hackensack and Clifton.

First-degree charges of conspiracy, human trafficking and promoting prostitution of a minor are pending against Bowman’s husband, Glen Bowman Sr., 41, and Jessica Renee Copeland, 28, both of Newark. Ernestine Bowman’s step-son, Glen Bowman Jr., 22, of Brooklyn, N.Y., previously pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy to promote prostitution and faces a recommended sentence of seven years in prison.

Tokina Williams, 33, of Raleigh, N.C., pleaded guilty to second-degree promoting prostitution.

The investigation began as an undercover operation by the South Hackensack Police Department targeting a prostitution ring that advertised on Backpage.com. Such rings typically offer “escort services” and display nude or semi-nude photos of young women. An undercover officer responded to an advertisement that included a photo of a very young-looking female with her breasts exposed. The officer phoned the number in the ad on Oct. 1, 2014, and a woman told him that he could have “full sex” for $160 cash at a motel on Route 46 in South Hackensack.

The undercover officer was directed to a room, where a teenage girl answered the door.

She repeated that the price of “full sex” was $160 and accepted $160 cash from the undercover officer.

He asked why the bathroom door was closed and learned there was a woman in the bathroom, who turned out to be Tokina Williams.

The teenage girl invited Williams to come out and told her that the client had paid to have sex with both of them.

At that time, backup officers entered and arrested Williams and the teenage girl. The teenage girl was determined to be a 16-year-old who was reported missing out of New York State.

She was the young female whose breasts were exposed in the photo in the ad on Backpage.com

The investigation began as an undercover operation by the South Hackensack Police Department targeting a prostitution ring that advertised on Backpage.com. Such rings typically offer “escort services” and display nude or semi-nude photos of young women.

An undercover officer responded to an advertisement that included a photo of a very young-looking female with her breasts exposed. The officer phoned the number in the ad on Oct. 1, 2014, and a woman told him that he could have “full sex” for $160 cash at a motel on Route 46 in South Hackensack.

The undercover officer was directed to a room, where a teenage girl answered the door. She repeated that the price of “full sex” was $160 and accepted $160 cash from the undercover officer. He asked why the bathroom door was closed and learned there was a woman in the bathroom, who turned out to be Tokina Williams.

The teenage girl invited Williams to come out and told her that the client had paid to have sex with both of them. At that time, backup officers entered and arrested Williams and the teenage girl.

The teenage girl was determined to be a 16-year-old who was reported missing out of New York State. She was the young female whose breasts were exposed in the photo in the ad on Backpage.com.