A California pimp who was passing through Sioux Falls for the weekend is now headed to prison.
Joe Becker, 33, was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison Monday morning after he was arrested in August. Becker was arrested after a woman ran from a Sioux Falls hotel and flagged down a citizen to call police. Authorities say Becker brought her to Sioux Falls to work as a prostitute.
Becker was in court Monday after pleading guilty to a federal charge of transportation for prostitution.
"We want to make it clear pimps are not welcome in South Dakota and we're going to do everything we can to crack down on those who try to sell others for sex," U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson said.
Court documents say the woman was not coerced into prostitution so Becker did not face a more serious sex trafficking charge.
Johnson says it’s still a serious crime.
"Even when a case doesn't meet the legal definition of coercion, what we know in these prostitution circles is we always have victims who, frankly, would rather not be in the situation they're in," Johnson said.
In court, Becker's attorney said the California native was out of money, didn't have a place to live and Becker turned to pimping to make a quick buck. Becker says he was heading to the West Coast when he stopped for the weekend in Sioux Falls.
Becker regrets what he called a ‘horrible decision’ to sell women for sex. In court, he claimed to have written a letter to Mayor Mike Huether apologizing for bringing prostitutes to Sioux Falls.
In an email to KELOLAND News on Monday, Huether did not remember the letter.
Prosecutors say it was clear he was profiting off prostitution because when he was arrested, he had $7,000 in cash along with several smart phones, tablets and laptops.
"What's important to me is one, we got the female out of the situation. And two, this guy is going to be out of our community and those are the two things that matter to me the most," Johnson said.
After sentencing Becker to 15 months in prison, Judge Karen Schreier told him he's going to have to start thinking about the direction he wants to take his life once he's released from custody. There is no parole in the federal system so Becker will have to serve the entire sentence at a federal prison that will likely be outside of South Dakota.
August 5, 2013: Man Arrested For Sex Trafficking In Sioux Falls
August 7, 2013: Task Force Aims To Eliminate Sex Trafficking