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    No new trial for Jonelle Bell, guilty of sex trafficking

    8:40 AM, Jun 20, 2013   |    comments
    Johnelle Bell (Photo: Pottawattamie County Jail)
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    COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (AP) - A judge is declining a new trial for a New Jersey man who was found guilty of running a nationwide prostitution ring.

    U.S. District Judge James Gritzner ruled Wednesday that the evidence supported Johnelle Bell's conviction on 12 counts of sex trafficking and interstate prostitution, and testimony from a witness who didn't appear at trial likely wouldn't have changed the outcome.

    Prosecutors say Bell was a pimp who ran an Arkansas-based traveling prostitution venture. He lured troubled young women to join under false promises of long-lasting relationships and coerced them through physical abuse and threats.

    Prosecutors uncovered the ring after an FBI agent posed as a customer in response to prostitution ads on Backpage.com in Omaha. The federal trial took place in Iowa because the venture traveled to Des Moines.

    (Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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