published Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Woman pleads guilty in Chattanooga to online prostitution scheme

A 30-year-old Georgia woman pleaded guilty here in federal court Monday that she brokered prostitution deals using a website that advertised in multiple states.

Tatianna "Toni" Valencia Wallace pleaded guilty to a single count of transporting for prostitution after she admitted that she had arranged and paid for an area woman to travel to Salt Lake City, Utah, to prostitute herself.

She has a sentencing hearing scheduled for April 14. The maximum sentence she faces is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. There is no minimum sentence.

The investigation began on Sept. 27, 2013, when Chattanooga Police Detective Zach Fuller arrested a woman at a Sheraton hotel in Chattanooga. During an undercover operation, the woman had agreed to perform sexual acts for $160.

Fuller had found the woman through advertisements for "Dreamgirl Companions" on the website Backpage.com. The woman he encountered explained Wallace booked appointments through the website.

Investigators found listings by Wallace in Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Maine, Utah, Nebraska, Tennessee and other states.

The woman, who was not identified in court documents and had only recently turned 18, told investigators she was scheduled to fly to Salt Lake City to meet a client.

On Oct. 3, 2013, Wallace paid for the woman's airline ticket.

The next day, investigators found Wallace at the Electric Cowboy nightclub here. She'd traveled from Kennesaw, Ga., to meet with the woman.

Wallace admitted to police she brokered the prostitution deals and worked 10 to 15 women over the past two years. The Utah client was to pay the woman $1,500 and Wallace would receive $1,000 for arranging the trip.

The woman traveled to Utah as part of her cooperation with the federal investigation. Court documents did not indicate whether the Utah client was arrested during the investigation. The client also was not named.

Last year, local police responded to another prostitution case that ended up in federal court and netted the pimp a two-year, three-month sentence.

Chattanooga police responded to a Jan. 19 call from a woman in the Applebee's restaurant near Shallowford Road. The woman told police she'd been traveling with Khari "King Black" Troutman in recent weeks prostituting herself while he handled advertisements on backpage.com.

They'd met in Baltimore, Md., and first traveled to Greensboro, N.C., then to Knoxville and finally Chattanooga.

While in Chattanooga, the woman told Troutman she needed to return home to see her children. She said he assaulted her and locked her in a hotel room, refusing to let her leave. He later took her to the Applebee's to eat and she was able to use a stranger's mobile phone in the restroom to call police.

Troutman pleaded guilty in federal court and was sentenced in August 2013 to two years, three months.

Because Wallace cooperated with the investigation and quickly admitted guilt, federal prosecutor Jay Woods recommended a downward departure from the range, meaning Wallace will likely a receive substantially lower sentence than the 10-year maximum.

Wallace declined to comment after the hearing. Federal agents and Woods declined to comment on the pending case.

Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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