BOISE – The Idaho teenager believed she had caught the eye of a modeling agency when Taquarius Ford approached her at a Boise-area mall.
That idea must have become cemented when Ford flew the 18-year-old to Los Angeles, where court documents say he took her out to expensive restaurants and to a party at the Playboy Mansion. But there was no modeling agency, and Ford was not the executive he was pretending to be, court documents say.
Instead, the 34-year-old self-styled “tycoon, entrepreneur and financial manager” is accused of coercing the woman to work for him as a prostitute. When she refused, he raped her and threatened to harm her family, prosecutors say. Ford took the teenager to Portland, where authorities say she was rescued months later when a hotel clerk got the feeling something wasn’t right.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacie Beckerman said the clerk’s hunch was instrumental in freeing the Idaho woman from prostitution.
“He did the right thing, which was take immediate action and get the police involved,” she said. “We wish more hotel clerks were as proactive as this one was, because his one phone call to the police led to us identifying and later indicting somebody who’s been terrorizing women across the country.”
Investigators say Ford coerced at least two more women into prostitution between September 2011 and June 2012, recruiting both from shopping centers.
That’s a tactic that gets results, according a 38-page document investigators say they found on the suspect’s computer. The manifesto, titled “Denial of a Pimp,” details Ford’s alleged exploits and strategies – among them, the best place to snare a new victim.
“Small towns are great places for finding new girls,” Ford allegedly wrote, adding that malls, shopping centers and fast-food restaurants often yield the best results. Authorities say Ford wrote he typically dangled the prospect of an acting career or modeling contract to persuade the women to leave with him, adding “within an hour they are usually hooked.”
Beckerman is convinced there are other victims, pointing to evidence gleaned from social media accounts and websites. Several sites that appeared to be run by Ford have since been taken down. Victims are urged to contact the Portland FBI Field Office at (503) 224-4181.
“Denial of a Pimp” brags about making “millions” from the women. Beckerman said it was too early to discern an exact dollar amount.
Ford was apprehended by FBI agents in late February when he arrived in Florida on a flight from Sweden. He has been charged with sex trafficking and sex trafficking conspiracy.
But Ford’s co-defendant, a woman with citizenship in the Ukraine, remains at large. She fled from Sweden to the Ukraine – which lacks an extradition treaty with the U.S. – after learning she was wanted, putting investigators in a tough spot.
“Until she leaves the Ukraine, we can’t touch her,” Beckerman said.
A Portland judge ordered Ford to be held without bond until his June trial. If convicted, he faces a mandatory minimum of 15 years in federal prison. A message left Friday afternoon with Ford’s public defender wasn’t immediately returned.