Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that a Newark man pleaded guilty today to a first-degree human trafficking charge for trafficking a girl, 16, from New York to New Jersey and making her work as a prostitute in the prostitution ring he ran, which advertised on Backpage.com.
Glen Bowman Sr., 42, of Newark, pleaded guilty today to first-degree conspiracy to commit human trafficking before Superior Court Judge Robert M. Vinci in Bergen County. Under the plea agreement, the state will recommend that Bowman be sentenced to 13 years in state prison, including five years of parole ineligibility.
According to authorities, Bowman ran the prostitution ring with his wife, Ernestine Bowman, 33, of Orange. Ernestine Bowman pleaded guilty in December 2016 to second-degree facilitating human trafficking. She is awaiting sentencing and faces a recommended sentence of 10 years in prison, with 39 months of parole ineligibility.
Five defendants were indicted in April 2015, and all have pleaded guilty, as a result of an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice and the South Hackensack Police Department.
The defendants were charged with conspiring to traffic the 16-year-old from Brooklyn, N.Y., to make her work as a prostitute at motels in South Hackensack and Clifton, N.J. The couple’s son, Glen Bowman Jr., 23, of Brooklyn, N.Y., pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy to promote prostitution and faces a recommended sentence of seven years in prison. Jessica Copeland, 29, of Newark, N.J. – who acted as boss or “bottom” over the prostitutes in the ring – pleaded guilty to second-degree facilitating human trafficking and faces a recommend sentence of six years in prison, including three years of parole ineligibility. Tokina Williams, 33, of Raleigh, N.C., pleaded guilty to second-degree promoting prostitution.
Sentencing for Glen Bowman Sr. is scheduled for Nov. 14. The other defendants, with the exception of Williams, are scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 25.
“This man threatened to beat the 16-year-old victim if she didn’t follow his orders and perform to his expectations for clients of his prostitution ring,” said Attorney General Porrino. “This plea will ensure that Bowman serves a lengthy sentence behind bars, where he can no longer subject young women and children to an unspeakable life of brutality and sexual slavery. I commend the South Hackensack Police and our attorneys for rescuing the victim and bringing those responsible to justice.”
Attorney General Porrino and Director Honig urged anyone who suspects that individuals are engaged in sex- or labor-related human trafficking to confidentially report such activity by calling the Division of Criminal Justice’s 24-hour NJ Human Trafficking Hotline 877-986-7534.
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.
Further investigation revealed that the defendants had conspired to lure the 16-year-old victim into a life of prostitution.
The victim met Glen Bowman Jr., in Brooklyn, N.Y., several months earlier, and he conspired with his father, Glen Bowman Sr., to traffic her to New Jersey to work in the prostitution ring. Both Glen Bowman Sr. and Copeland threatened the 16-year-old with physical violence if she did not follow their rules and perform to their expectations. The defendants drove the victim and other prostitutes to hotels and motels in South Hackensack, Clifton and other locations in northern New Jersey, where they serviced clients. At the end of the day, the defendants picked them up and collected the money they had been paid.
According to authorities, Glen Bowman Sr. was the primary leader of the prostitution ring, but Ernestine Bowman took on a greater leadership role after her husband was arrested and imprisoned in New York in August 2014.