Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter
Sep 03 2011
There's reportedly plenty of money in promoting prostitution in Kent and the Seattle area, according to charging documents filed against a 32-year-old Seattle man.
Shacon Fontane Barbee is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 19 in Kent for promoting prostitution, leading organized crime, promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor (under age 18) and several other charges.
Barbee allegedly made at least $192,000 as a pimp during one eight-month period, according to charging papers filed against Barbee in July by King County prosecutors.
A then 19-year-old prostitute told detectives that she earned about $2,000 per week mainly from working along Pacific Highway South in Kent and Denny Way in Seattle. She gave all of that money to Barbee.
"Based on those figures, if (she) earned $2,000 a week, she alone would have given Barbee approximately $64,000 in the eight months she worked for him," detectives wrote in the charging documents. "If Barbee had two other females working for him at that time, he would have taken in about $192,000. This is a very modest estimate. This number is based on figures that other girls, who were posting (ads) online, only earned $2,000 each week. (She) believed they earned far more than that."
Barbee pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. The charges include three counts of promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor; first-degree promoting prostitution; second-degree promoting prostitution; and leading organized crime. He also is charged with three counts of first-degree theft in connection with wrongfully obtaining money from the Social Security Administration and one count of tampering with a witness.
Barbee is set for trial Sept. 19, but that date could be delayed if attorneys from either side ask for more time to prepare the case, according to Ian Goodhew, spokesman for the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
The most serious charges against Barbee are leading organized crime and promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor, Goodhew said.
"He could face up to 15 years if convicted of all counts but we could also ask for an exceptional (sentence) above that amount if the jury finds aggravating factors," Goodhew wrote in an email.
Barbee allegedly started pimping in January 2007 and had more than 40 women who worked for him, according to charging papers.
He remains in the county jail at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent with bail set at $500,000.
Police sting leads to arrest
The case against Barbee broke when Kent detectives arrested him at about 11:30 p.m. Dec. 3 in the 6000 block of South 212th Street for investigation of commercial sexual abuse of a minor and promoting prostitution.
A special investigations unit of the Kent Police conducted a prostitution sting Dec. 3 at the Hampton Inn, 21109 66th Ave. S. An undercover officer responded to an online ad to hire an escort at www.backpage.com, a popular website where prostitutes are known to advertise their services, according to charging documents.
Backpage.com is the company that received an Aug. 31 letter signed by 46 state attorney generals, including Rob McKenna of Washington, "to substantiate (by Sept. 14) company claims it can effectively limit prostitution and sexual trafficking activity on its website, especially ads that could involve minors," according to a National Association of Attorneys General media release.
Officers recognized the girl in the online ad because she had been contacted in March 2010 during a prostitution investigation in Kent. Officers knew she was just 17 years old. They also knew through cellphone numbers that the girl had connections to Barbee.
An undercover officer rented a hotel room and responded to the ad for the girl to come to the room as an escort at a cost of $150 for 30 minutes. The girl agreed to the deal.
Detectives outside the hotel reportedly spotted Barbee drive the girl to the hotel entrance in a Toyota Avalon and drop her off.
As one undercover officer waited for the girl inside the room, two other officers hid in the room's closet. Once the girl agreed to accept cash from the undercover officer in return for sex, the two officers emerged from the closet and arrested the girl for investigation of prostitution.
After Barbee had dropped off the girl, he waited in his vehicle in a parking lot near the hotel. After the prostitution arrest of the girl inside the hotel, officers approached his vehicle in unmarked cars when Barbee started to drive way. They followed him westbound on South 212th Street and eventually pulled him over at the KOA Campground and arrested him for investigation of promoting prostitution.
Building a case
With Barbee in custody, detectives started to build a case against him that led to further charges being filed in July. Kent Police worked with King County Sheriff's Office detectives who had been investigating Barbee as a pimp in connection with prostitution activity at a SeaTac hotel.
Barbee allegedly rented a room at the hotel for women working for him to use as a place to meet men who responded to online ads for escorts.
Overall, Kent Police interviewed four women who allegedly worked for Barbee as prostitutes. The women include:
• An 18-year-old who claimed she had been associated with Barbee since she was 13 and began working for him at age 16. Barbee reportedly paid for online ads and hotel rooms for the woman and transported her to the "dates." The woman also helped line up other women to work for Barbee.
• A 19-year-old who met another prostitute through a message on myspace.com and then started to text each other. The woman later met Barbee at a Motel 6 near Sea-Tac Airport. She told police that Barbee put her up in a motel room and that she would average about five or six "dates" per day from men who saw her online ad at backpage.com.
• A 20-year-old who Kent Police arrested for investigation of prostitution in March 2010 and later connected her phone with calls from Barbee. She told officers she met Barbee through another prostitute and worked for him for about eight months. She mainly worked street prostitution in Kent and Seattle.
• An 18-year-old who said she worked for Barbee for one night in the spring of 2010 as part of a two-girl special with another woman at a SeaTac hotel. She told detectives she didn't work more than one night because Barbee really didn't care about her and he had a violent reputation.
Cars, lingerie and cash
When sheriff's office deputies investigated a SeaTac hotel room reportedly used by women who worked for Barbee, they discovered guest registration signed by Barbee listed two of his cars, a Jaguar XJR and a Mercedes S420. The registration form also had a copy of Barbee's driver's license attached.
A search warrant of the room led to finding a letter written by one of the women to Barbee about how much she liked working for him; online postings; sex toys; condoms; and lingerie. Many of the women wore lingerie in the online ads.
King County prosecutors served a subpoena to the custodian of record for backpage.com and found out through credit card records that Barbee and an associate had paid for 91 postings on the site. Barbee spent approximately $637 on backpage.com for online ads during a seven-month period.
Barbee would use text messages to communicate with women he groomed to work for him, according to charging documents. He would give them tips on how to manipulate a man, including one message with the title "Why does a hoe need a pimp?"
Barbee would often wake up at noon and be out on the streets until 2 a.m.. He would take the women shopping for clothing, lingerie and shoes. He paid for one of the women to get her nails done every other week at the cost of $30 and her hair done once a month at a cost of $100.
In April, Kent detectives executed a search warrant at a Burien storage unit rented by Barbee and reportedly found numerous documents and videos related to pimping and prostitution; large amounts of female lingerie; a garbage bag with monthly bills and phone lists belonging to Barbee; Gucci (an Italian fashion and leather goods label) receipts totaling totaling $10,806 over a 13-month period; and a safe with $18,300 in cash.
Barbee has juvenile convictions for second-degree attempted rape of a child in 1996; taking a motor vehicle once in 1996 and four times in 1995. He has adult convictions for failing to register as a sex offender in 1998 and 2006; unlawful possession of a firearm in 1999; communicating with a minor for immoral purposes in 1999; possessing stolen property in 1998; and taking a motor vehicle in 1997.
Kent Reporter Courts, government reporter Steve Hunter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-872-6600, ext. 5052.