BILLINGS — A Charleston, South Carolina, man was sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison, to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release, for his conviction in a large sex trafficking and drug investigation that involved more than a dozen women and girls who were forced by threats and violence into prostitution in Montana and taken to other states, U.S. Attorney Jesse Laslovich said.
Louis Gregory Venning, also known as “December,” 42, pleaded guilty in November 2021 to sex trafficking by force, fraud and coercion, sex trafficking of a minor, transportation of a person with intent to engage in prostitution and possession with intent to distribute cocaine.
U.S. District Judge Dana L. Christensen presided. Restitution, which is mandatory, will be determined at a later hearing.
In court documents and in statements in court, the government alleged that from 2012 to 2020, Venning sex-trafficked women and girls, identified as Jane Does, and distributed cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. Venning coerced, threatened and controlled more than a dozen victims to engage in commercial sex for his profit.
Venning used the internet and social media to meet and recruit victims, some of whom were homeless and using drugs, into working for him. He further controlled his victims by providing them drugs and by threatening and physically abusing them. Venning forced the victims to engage in commercial sex for him in Billings and other Montana communities. Venning also took some of victims from Montana to work in other states, including Wyoming, Missouri and Georgia.
The government further alleged that in 2019, Venning met Jane Doe 9 in a Missoula motel after responding to one of Jane Doe 9’s own ads for commercial sex. Venning discussed how she would work for him and ultimately she did. Venning became abusive toward Jane Doe 9, including physically assaulting her. In August 2018 in Billings, Venning coerced a minor girl, identified as Jane Doe 8, who was under the age of 18, to engage in commercial sex. In 2012, Venning transported another victim, identified as Jane Doe 5, from Montana to Georgia and Missouri to engage in prostitution.
In addition, Jane Does 3 and 4 told law enforcement that while working for Venning in commercial sex, he gave them cocaine. Social media posts collected during the investigation show Venning bragging about and sending pictures of cocaine to various individuals.