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Article updated: 8/14/2013 2:07 PM

Chicago man offered plea deal in forced prostitution case

Aaron Thurmond

Aaron Thurmond

 
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A Chicago man has about one week to decide if he will accept a plea deal with prosecutors and go to prison for forcing his girlfriend to work as a prostitute.

Aaron Thurmond, 23, was offered a plea deal by prosecutors that gave him the choice of serving up to four years on probation and periodic imprisonment or about two years in the Illinois Department of Corrections, Lake County Judge Victoria Rossetti said Wednesday.

Should he turn down either deal, Thurmond would go to trial where he risks being sentenced up to 30 years in prison, Lake County State's Attorney Jason Grindel said.

If Thurmond accepts the prison plea deal instead of the probation and periodic imprisonment deal, he would have to serve up to a maximum of four years in prison but it would be at 50 percent, Grindel explained.

Thurmond, who remains held in Lake County jail in lieu of $250,000 bail, will be back in court Aug. 22 with a final decision.

Thurmond was charged in April with 18 total counts of involuntary servitude, trafficking in persons, promoting prostitution and conspiring to traffic in persons after he and his brother were arrested on charges of forcing Thurmond's girlfriend to work as a prostitute in Illinois, authorities said.

Thurmond and Jeffrey Horton, 27, also of Chicago, were stopped by Mundelein police at 12:30 a.m. April 3 for driving with the headlights off on Thurmond's car. During the traffic stop, the unidentified woman told officers that Thurmond and Horton were forcing her to have sex with men in Lake County for money, authorities said.

According to police, the woman said she had just completed a sex act with an unidentified man in Wauconda and was being driven to an Antioch home where she was supposed to perform another sex act.

Police said the Antioch appointment was with Lake County sheriff's deputy Eric Francke, 33. Francke has since pleaded not guilty to obstruction of justice and solicitation of a sex act. He has been placed on unpaid administrative leave from the sheriff's office.

Horton pleaded guilty to conspiracy to promote prostitution in July and was placed on 24 months of probation. He was also ordered to perform 200 hours of community service and have no contact with Thurmond prior to Thurmond's court date.

The unidentified man in Wauconda has not been charged with a crime, but the victim was later arrested on charges of not showing up to court when subpoenaed to appear at Thurmond's previous trial date.

Authorities said she has not been charged with a crime, and will be released from Lake County jail if Thurmond accepts the plea deal, or after she testifies at Thurmond's trial.

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