A former pimp from Missoula told a federal jury on Wednesday about meeting Terrance Tyrell Edwards, who is on trial on sex trafficking charges, while in jail and hooking up Edwards with a woman in Washington who used to work for him.
Anthony Brazington, 28, also admitted lying to law enforcement in an interview last Friday, initially telling investigators he didn’t know of Edwards’ intent when Edwards went to Washington to pick up the woman.
But during his testimony in federal court in Billings, Brazington, who was released from parole last month and has his own business, said he realized that being a productive member of society meant telling the truth even though he is afraid of getting charged for his actions with Edwards in 2016. He also said he had no immunity from prosecution.
Edwards, 35, of Missoula, and his co-defendant, Francine Joann Granados, 32, of Moorhead, Minnesota, are on trial in an investigation in which Edwards faces 10 counts including sex trafficking by force or coercion, obstruction, a drug charge and witness tampering. Granados faces one count of witness tampering.
Prosecutors allege Edwards brought women and minor girls to Billings and Missoula for prostitution from about March 2016 to September 2016. He was arrested outside a Billings motel after returning with three girls he had recruited from North Dakota and Minnesota, prosecutors said.
Edwards’ defense attorney said his client was running a legal escort service to provide companionship to lonely men, not forcing women to work as prostitutes.
Edwards was convicted in Missoula County of promoting prostitution in 2010 and had a five-year suspended sentence revoked for probation violations.
Brazington, who also was convicted of conspiracy to promote prostitution in Missoula, said he met Edwards in 2010 while they were both in the county jail and facing charges.
Edwards contacted him in April 2016 to say hello and to catch up, Brazington said. While they were visiting, Brazington said he got a call from one of his former prostitutes who was in Washington who needed help and wanted to return to Missoula.
Brazington said he declined to help the woman and hung up. Edwards then asked him to hook him up with the woman and he agreed, he said.
Brazington said he contacted the woman and told her to go with Edwards and to do what he said.
Brazington, who had taken steps to leave the prostitution business, said he told Edwards, “You don’t have to do this.”
Edwards, Brazington continued, replied, “I’m a pimp,” and that that’s what he’ll do.
Asked about the difference between an escort service and prostitution, Brazington called it “a fine line” but said people call an escort service “to have sex with girls.”
And while Edwards didn’t say outright why he wanted to get the woman in Washington, “it was implied” that he was “selling girls,” Brazington said.
The trial, which began on Monday, continues with U.S. District Judge Susan Watters presiding.
If convicted on the sex trafficking counts, Edwards a faces a mandatory minimum 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.