Yorker sentenced to 33 years in federal prison for pimping by 'fraud, force and coercion'

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

A convicted York drug dealer has been sentenced to decades in federal prison for sex trafficking by "fraud, force and coercion."

Robert Lee Johnson, 54, also known as "Stone," was sentenced Thursday in Harrisburg's federal court to 33 years in prison, according to court records.

If he lives long enough to be released from federal lockup, Johnson will have to spend 15 years on supervised release, court records state. That's the federal version of probation.

Johnson pimped out his victims at hotels in York County between November 2015 and August 2016, using beatings, threats and heroin to keep them in line, according to  Acting U.S. Attorney Bruce Brandler.

The prostitutes who worked for Johnson turned over all their profits to him or risked being beaten, and they relied on him for food, clothing and other basic living expenses, according to a news release from Brandler's office.

They also relied on him to support their heroin addictions, the release states.

Robert Lee Johnson

"Johnson was often violent, threatened the victims and physically assaulted them if they tried to keep any money or if they were 'disrespectful,'" according to the release.

Had to watch beatings: He sometimes forced prostitutes to watch him beat someone else, so they would know what would happen to them if they crossed him, according to Brandler's office.

Johnson would withhold heroin from his victims until they reached his "quota" of tricks for them, according to federal prosecutors — meaning until the prostitutes had sex with enough people to earn enough money to satisfy Johnson.

He pleaded guilty June 15, 2020, to one count of sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, federal court records state.

A federal grand jury in Harrisburg indicted Johnson on Nov. 28, 2018, after he was investigated by the FBI, officials said.

At the time, he was serving a state prison sentence for trafficking drugs in York and Dauphin counties.

Drug trafficking: Johnson pleaded guilty in York County Court to conspiracy to deal drugs and was sentenced to 2½ to five years in prison, county court records state.

In 2016, he pleaded guilty in Dauphin County Court to drug dealing and was serving a concurrent prison sentence, records state.

Court records show that Johnson was sentenced to prison by York County judges for dealing drugs in 2007 and in 1993.

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