York-area pimp pleads guilty, is already serving decade in federal prison

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
(Image courtesy of Ibiza2day.com)

A man already serving a decade in federal prison for pimping out a half-dozen heroin-addicted women in York County and elsewhere has pleaded guilty in York County Court.

Willie James Johnson, 59, formerly of Lehigh County and now of Kutztown, Berks County, pleaded guilty Wednesday, Aug. 14, to the second-degree felony of human trafficking.

York County Common Pleas Judge Harry M. Ness ordered Johnson to pay court costs but determined the pimp would receive no further penalty.

That's because the federal human-trafficking case was based, in part, on charges filed in York County in 2017 by Northern York County Regional Police.

Johnson was sentenced Feb. 13 in Harrisburg's federal court to 10 years in prison and ordered to pay a $5,000 special assessment fee under the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, according to federal court records.

Once released, Johnson will have to register as a sexual offender under Megan's Law and will be supervised by federal probation officers for 15 years. During that time, he is forbidden from having any contact with minors, according to federal court records.

A federal grand jury in March 2018 indicted Johnson on two counts based on Northern Regional's investigation — sex trafficking of a child by force, fraud or coercion and heroin possession with intent to distribute.

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Both offenses occurred in York County, according to his indictment, which states the sex-trafficking victim was 16 years old at the time.

Johnson pleaded guilty in federal court to both counts on Sept. 4, 2018, court records state.

Willie Johnson

The background: According to court documents filed by Northern Regional Police, Johnson "paid" his sex-trafficking victims in heroin and only enough for the women to maintain their addictions.

One of the women died after overdosing on heroin given to her by Johnson, police said.

Another told investigators she started working for Johnson after he said she could make a lot of money and eventually buy a car — but he never gave her cash, only heroin, according to court documents.

Johnson pimped out the women in York, Lancaster and Allentown and took all the money they earned, documents state.

He arranged the meetings between the women and set the rates paid by their "customers," police said.

In York County, Johnson had his stable of victims working out of a private home; at the Quality Inn in Springettsbury Township; and at the Motel 6, Super 8 and Econo Lodge in Manchester Township, according to police.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.