Man testifies against brother in Lake County prostitution case
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A Chicago man accused of forcing a downstate woman to work as a prostitute pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to promote prostitution in Lake County court Friday.
However, in accepting the plea deal, Jeffrey Horton, 27, also agreed to testify against his 23-year-old brother, Aaron Thurmond, who is held in Lake County jail on charges of involuntary servitude and trafficking in persons.
Horton, of the 10000 block of South Claremont Street, was placed on 24 months of probation by Judge Victoria Rossetti after agreeing to plead guilty to the class 3 felony.
Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Jason Grindel said Horton must pay a $500 fine, court costs of $3,660, make a $500 donation to a Lake County battered women's shelter, and perform 200 hours of community service.
He is not allowed to ingest alcohol or illegal drugs while on probation or frequent any place that sells alcohol as its primary business. He is prohibited from having contact with the victim or Thurmond while his brother's criminal case is active, Grindel said.
As part of the plea deal, Horton testified in court that Thurmond and the victim were in a yearlong relationship and living together in Chicago. He said he thought the victim, who is from downstate Champaign, was working as an exotic dancer.
Horton was driving Thorton's car overnight from April 2 to April 3 when it was stopped by a Mundelein police officer for driving with its headlights off. The victim told officers that Thurmond and Horton were driving her to houses in Lake County and forcing her to have sex with men for money, authorities said.
She also told authorities she had just completed a sex act in Wauconda and was heading Antioch to perform another sex act.
Authorities said she was being driven to the Antioch home of Lake County sheriff's deputy Eric Francke, 33. He has since been placed on unpaid administrative leave and charged with obstruction of justice-destroying evidence, and solicitation of a sex act.
Thurmond, of the 10000 block of Walden Park in Chicago, faces 18 charges including involuntary servitude, trafficking in persons, promoting prostitution, and conspiring to traffic in persons. If found guilty of the most serious charges, he could be sentenced up to 30 years in prison.
Thurmond and Horton were scheduled to go to trial this week, but the case was continued to July 22 because the victim did not appear in court despite a subpoena order.
The victim -- whose name is withheld until formal charges are filed against her -- was in court Friday. She was granted a continuance until she could hire an attorney.
Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Ari Fisz could not comment about the case Friday because of the outstanding charges remaining against Thurmond.
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