Kentwood Resident Pleads Guilty To Role in Stealing Identities as Part of Nationwide Prostitution Scheme That Involved Drugging Victims
NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser announced that DOMINIQUE ALAINA BERRY, age 30, a resident of Kentwood, Louisiana, pleaded guilty as charged on December 5, 2019 before United States District Judge Eldon E. Fallon to a two-count bill of information that charged her with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, bank fraud, and interstate transportation and use of an interstate facility with intent to carry on unlawful activity, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 371, 1343, 1344, and 1952(a)(3) (Count 1), and aggravated identity theft, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1028A (Count 2).
According to court documents, BERRY and R.S. met in about early 2013 and soon developed a romantic relationship. Thereafter, BERRY began working for an escort agency under R.S.’s supervision, often engaging in prostitution activities. BERRY and R.S. travelled nationally engaging in their prostitution scheme, the proceeds of which R.S. required BERRY to give to him. R.S. and BERRY often advertised on location-specific bulletin boards, social applications, and classified advertisement websites. BERRY often used the alias “Desiree Knowles.” When BERRY did not perform her role efficiently or effectively or otherwise failed to comply with R.S.’s direction, R.S. would threaten, slap, strike, beat, and choke BERRY.
Thereafter, BERRY and R.S.’s enterprise evolved into one that involved meeting individuals online who were interested in companionship, arranging face-to-face interactions with them, and incapacitating them by giving them illegal drugs and prescription medication with neuro-suppressive side effects, including anti-psychotic medications, which the victims unknowingly ingested. BERRY and R.S. would then steal the victims’ valuables.
Between at least November 2015 and September 2017, R.S. and BERRY implemented the scheme on not fewer than fifty (50) occasions throughout the United States, including in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia. Court documents detail nine of the victims. BERRY and R.S. typically traveled in a white Mercedes Benz automobile. BERRY and R.S. were arrested at a hotel in Sandy Springs, Georgia, on September 13, 2017. When law enforcement authorities found BERRY at the hotel, she was bleeding from her nose, had a swollen lip and puncture consistent with her teeth biting through her lip, and black electrical tape around one of her arms.
Among the victims was S.A., a resident of Metairie, Louisiana, whom BERRY met through a social media application on about February 24, 2017. After exchanging text messages and phone calls, BERRY and S.A. agreed to meet at S.A.’s apartment. Thereafter, R.S. dropped BERRY off at S.A.’s apartment. While at S.A.’s apartment, BERRY placed drugs designed to incapacitate S.A., including multiple anti-psychotic medications, into S.A.’s beverages without his knowledge or authorization. After S.A. lost consciousness, BERRY told R.S. that S.A. was incapacitated. Thereafter, S.A.’s valuables, including his wallet, two cellular phones, his keys, and his 2012 Toyota Tacoma truck were stolen by R.S. and one or more co-conspirators. On February 25, 2017, BERRY and R.S. used S.A.’s debit card to make multiple purchases in the New Orleans area. Additionally, on February 25, 2017, detectives with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office responded to a wellness check at S.A.’s residence and found him to be deceased. Among its findings, toxicology tests found anti-psychotic medications in S.A.’s body and determined them to have contributed to his death.
If you believe you are a victim of these criminal activities, please contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (800-225-5324), and reference this case.
If convicted, BERRY faces a maximum term of seven (7) years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000.00, up to three (3) years of supervised release after imprisonment, and a mandatory $100 special assessment for each count. Sentencing before Judge Fallon has been scheduled for March 19, 2020.
U.S. Attorney Strasser praised the work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in investigating this matter and expressed appreciation for the support provided by the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office and the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Jordan Ginsberg, supervisor of the Public Corruption Unit, and Elizabeth Privitera, supervisor of the Violent Crime Unit, are in charge of the prosecution.