Derrick Avery, who gained fame in movies and on television as “Pimp Snooky,” was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday in federal court in Milwaukee.
Avery, 45, prostituted scores of women and girls in cities from Milwaukee to Las Vegas for at least 16 years, according to federal prosecutors. He pleaded guilty in November to two felonies: conspiracy to sex traffic by use of force and sex trafficking of a child by use of force, fraud and coercion.
In handing down the sentence, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman followed the recommendation of prosecutors.
Avery’s attorneys, Donna Kuchler and Anthony Cotton, had recommended that he serve 10 years.
In imposing the sentence, Adelman cited the statements of several women, two of whom were 14 when they started prostituting for Avery.
Their accounts convey “a sense of the violent, degrading and abusive manner in which the defendant treated these women and the methods he used to keep them in line,” Adelman said.
Avery’s most trusted prostitutes would “program” the new ones, teaching them Avery’s rules, Adelman said. The women had to walk behind Avery with their heads bowed and call him “Daddy.” They could not talk to other pimps and could not look men in the eye unless the men were clients. The women also had “quotas” that required each to earn thousands of dollars every night, and they had to give Avery all their earnings.
Avery assaulted the women by “beating them with his fists, wooden and metal brooms, pool cues, pans, chairs and leather belts; slapping them in the face methodically back and forth with his rings facing inward; stomping and kicking them with his alligator shoes; (and) placing a phone book on their backs and striking it with a baseball bat,” Adelman said, citing Avery’s plea agreement.
One woman’s grandmother told Adelman she had to hire a private investigator to find her granddaughter after the young woman left with Avery.
“He took everything from her, including her pride, her human dignity,” Patricia Myers said. “He must have been a very intelligent person to be able to con all these young women into doing his bidding – leaving their children, taking his abuse, taking them away from families that love them. . . . Let me tell you, the girls were afraid.”
Avery’s prostitution ring was based in Milwaukee from 1994 to 2004, according to court records. He then moved it to Las Vegas.
Avery used mental coercion and threats to keep the women working for him, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Wall. Prosecutors also contend Avery impregnated the women in order to maintain their loyalty.
In a presentence interview, Avery told authorities he is the father of 26 children. However, he contended the sex was consensual, and he was not using the pregnancies as a means of control.
“He believes the true victims in this case are his children, being raised with single mothers without the support of their father,” Adelman said, citing the presentence report.
Avery’s oldest daughter, in a courtroom packed with his supporters and family members, told Adelman her father was always there for her, emotionally and spiritually.
“He is a genius who was taken by the street,” she said. “He’s not malicious, inconsiderate or this evil creature. He was the only person who didn’t judge and always listened to me.”
‘The most brutal’
Wall called Avery’s case “by far the most horrific, the most brutal” of the seven prosecuted by the U.S. attorney’s office in recent years.
Wall characterized Avery’s recruitment and abuse of a 17-year-old Milwaukee girl as particularly awful.
Avery found the girl, a frequent runaway who had not prostituted before, at the Greyhound bus station in June 2004. That night, he comforted her when she cried and bought her clothes, shoes and toiletries. He also took all her identification and her address book. She soon began prostituting for him in Chicago.
Two months later, Avery beat the girl when she told him she did not want to move to Las Vegas. He made a phone call and offered someone $2,800 to kill her father. He beat her with several items, including a wooden broomstick, which broke. He then switched to an aluminum broomstick, which bent.
The girl was “five different colors” as a result of the beating, one of the other prostitutes told authorities.
Avery flaunted his wealth and women in documentary films such as “American Pimp” and “Pimps Up, Ho’s Down,” Wall said. Avery and several prostitutes also appeared on “The Jerry Springer Show.”
Avery’s attorneys contended he was working with the FBI at the time and that federal agents wanted him to maintain his image as a world-class pimp in order to snare other criminals.
Wall said that although Avery was working with the FBI, there was no indication the agency was encouraging the publicity.
Whatever the case, Avery said the programs mischaracterized him.
“One day I am going to have to explain to the world who was Pimp Snooky, and that day is coming,” Avery said. “My face is on these videos, but that’s not who Derrick Avery is. Pimp Snooky is a brand, like Pepsi or something.”
“He is an international pimp and he proudly advertises this. He has never had any shame about what he has done or how he made his money,” Wall said.
In one of the films, Avery, known for wearing snazzy suits and fancy jewelry, is shown leaving jail in disheveled clothing. He complains that he looks like a “trick” – one of the men who patronize prostitutes – rather than a pimp.
He was led out of the courtroom Friday in an orange jail uniform and handcuffs.
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