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Press Release

  • Two Ordered to Stand Trial on Human Trafficking Charges in Montgomery County

    11/5/2017

    Defendants Forced Victim into Prostitution, Held Against Her Will

    MONTGOMERY COUNTYTwo people who lured a victim from California to the East Coast with false promises of easy money, forced her into prostitution and held her against her will, have been ordered to stand trial for human trafficking, prostitution and related offenses. The case is being prosecuted by Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office, which utilized a statewide investigating grand jury to develop the evidence leading to charges against the traffickers.

    Kashamba John, 29, and Arianna Somerville, 27, both of Decatur, Georgia, were held for trial on all charges following a preliminary hearing in Montgomery County before District Judge William Maruszczak. A third defendant in the case, Tyler Bachtel, remains a fugitive.

    The charges against John and Somerville stem from a joint investigation by the Office of Attorney General, Pennsylvania State Police, Upper Merion Township Police and Homeland Security Investigations.  The investigation was submitted to a statewide investigating grand jury, which determined John ran a human trafficking ring that used the victim, a 21-year-old woman who was recruited from California, flown to the East Coast, held against her will and forced into prostitution in hotels in Georgia, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

    “This is a horrendous case where a young woman was subjected to unconscionable treatment,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “The victim was lured from California, held against her will and forced into prostitution. Collaboration between our office with the Pennsylvania State Police, Upper Merion police and Homeland Security, and the effective use of the grand jury, led to this prosecution. We will use every tool at our disposal to prosecute these human trafficking cases.”

    Investigators said the victim met Bachtel in a Los Angeles nightclub and was recruited by Bachtel to fly to the East Coast to work as an escort, where she could potentially make thousands of dollars a week.  The victim flew to Atlanta, where she met Bachtel’s “business partner” – Kashamba John. 

    John immediately forced the victim to begin having sex with men in Atlanta hotel rooms, sometimes as many as 30 men per day. She was forced to work from 8 a.m. until 12:30 a.m. John took possession of the victim’s belongings, including her personal ID.  John kept all of the money the victim earned through prostitution.  A woman whom the victim knew only as “Amy” – later identified as Arianna Somerville – arranged the victim’s “dates” with men through ads placed in the publication Backpage.

    On October 5, 2016, the victim and John flew from Atlanta to Philadelphia, and the victim was taken by John to a motel in King of Prussia, Montgomery County, where she continued meeting dates for sex.

    John ordered an Uber car to take the victim to a hotel in Philadelphia for a date. Once in the car, the victim broke down and told the Uber driver she was a victim of human trafficking, and wanted to go to the police.  The Uber driver flagged down a Pennsylvania State Police trooper, who took the victim to a nearby police barracks.

    The ongoing, joint investigation continued gathering evidence using the grand jury, which recommended trafficking and related charges in July against John. Through the continued use of the grand jury, more evidence was developed, and additional charges were filed in September against John, along with charges against Somerville and Bachtel.

    All three defendants are charged with trafficking in individuals, involuntary servitude, prostitution, conspiracy, corruption organizations and related offenses. Following the preliminary hearing Friday before Judge Maruszczak, John was ordered held on $1 million bail. Somerville’s bail was set at $50.000.

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