Alleged gang members plead not guilty to sex trafficking

Two men believed to be members of the Atlanta-based Da M.O.B. gang pleaded not guilty Friday in federal court to charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking involving girls as young as 14.

Fabian Terran Murray, 25, Joshua Thomas Hill, 24, and three other men are accused of beating and in one instance shooting at the teenage victims to force them into having “commercial sex” in hotels throughout metro Atlanta, prosecutors allege.

The men also took photos of the girls to post in erotic classified ads on websites that include Atlanta Backpage, the indictments allege.

Both men sat Friday morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gerrilyn G. Brill as she questioned them to determine whether they need public defenders.

“Do you own any property or have any money?” Brill asked the men.

Murray, dressed in orange sweatpants and sweatshirt, said nothing.

“I have $600,” said Hill, of Atlanta, who was dressed identically to Murray.

Murray, of Smyrna, is named in two prostitution indictments with different sets of victims, according to federal court records.

Others indicted include Clinton Saintvil, 24, of Miami, Richard Douglas King, 25, of Atlanta, and Jonathan Christopher Branch, 21, of Atlanta.

Branch and Saintvil were arraigned Aug. 30, and King faced a judge last week. All three pleaded not guilty, according to court records.

According to prosecutors, Hill and Saintvil had sex with a 14-year-old girl sometime in February. When they told her they were going to prostitute her, she refused, and Hill choked her, prosecutors said.

Cobb County police discovered her on Feb. 10 at a hotel where the girl was being forced to have sex for money, prosecutors said. The girl told authorities that Hill was beating her during the time he was forcing her into prostitution.

In February, prosecutors claim Murray, Hill and Saintvil met two other 14-year-olds at a convenience store and allegedly raped the girls before taking them to hotels around the metro area.

Cobb County police found the girls during the search of a hotel on Feb. 22, where they also found a .45-caliber handgun that either Saintivil or Hill used to force the girls to have sex, court officials said.

The second indictment accuses Murray and King of forcing a 16-year-old to have commercial sex at a motel on Fulton Industrial Boulevard in Atlanta and various other motels after meeting her in May.

As with the other girls, the teen’s pictures were posted on the Backpage Atlanta website to solicit business, and she told law enforcement officers that Murray beat her almost every day, authorities said.

Prosecutors said she told authorities that once, when she tried to escape, the men caught her and Murray raped her while King held her down. Authorities said when she did finally escape, the men encountered her in an apartment parking lot and fired shots at her.

In late June, she called Cobb police to report she was being held against her will, prosecutors said.

All five men are being held in the U.S. Penitentiary in Atlanta as they await bond proceedings.

Hill also is charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and Murray and King are accused of firearm possession during the sex trafficking of a minor.

Each man faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for the federal charges, as well as a $250,000 fine.

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