Alex Campbell, a former Glenview resident and Mt. Prospect massage parlor owner, was sentenced to life in prison Monday for sex-trafficking, forced labor, harboring illegal aliens, confiscating passports to further forced labor and extorting four foreign women whom he mentally and physically abused while forcing them to work for him, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Justice Department announced Monday.
“The seriousness of Campbell’s crimes cannot be overstated, nor could the government put into words the magnitude of harm or the life-altering consequences of Campbell’s actions," prosecutors argued in urging a life sentence, according to a press release from the Justice Department. "An evaluation of the seriousness of what Campbell has done must necessarily begin by looking at his victims, whose lives he upended, dreams he shattered, ideals he undermined, and whose faith in humanity he so cruelly crushed."
Campbell, 47, operated the Day and Night Spa on Northwest Highway and used violence and threats to force three women from Ukraine and one from Belarus to work for him without pay and, at times, little to no subsistence between July 2008 and January 2010, according to the release.
Campbell, also known as “Dave” and “Daddy” and called himself “Cowboy,” was ordered to pay approximately $124,000 restitution by U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman. There is no parole in the federal prison system.
“They [the victims] have a life sentence — all of them," Judge Gettleman said during sentencing, according to the press release. "Their life sentence at your hands compels a life sentence for you."
Prosecutors showed that Campbell recruited and groomed foreign women without U.S. citizenship to become part of his “family,” which he claimed was an international organization that would offer them support, the release states. He promised jobs in his massage parlor, a place to live, immigration assistance and lured each of them into a romantic relationship with him.
After gaining their trust, the Justice Department says that Campbell forced the victims to get tattoos of his moniker, which he said made them his property and allowed him to stop paying them. The women were forced to work long hours every day, and beat them if they disobeyed. At the same time, he acquired the women’s passports and visas.
Campbell was convicted at trial in January and faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of life on the sex-trafficking count alone. The judge also imposed maximum prison terms ranging from 5 to 20 years on each of the remaining counts, to run concurrent with the life sentence.
All four victims testified at trial, along with co-defendant, Danielle John, 25, who pleaded guilty before trial to two counts of harboring illegal aliens for financial gain. She was sentenced previously to three years of probation.
Prosecutors also provided evidence of about 20 other women that Campbell victimized, the release said.
“If you treat human beings as property, to be branded, beaten, raped, and sold, the law will punish you to the greatest extent possible,” said Gary S. Shapiro, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, in the press release. “This sentence ensures Alex Campbell’s incapacitation, which will prevent him from victimizing other women.”
“Alex Campbell abused women by violently coercing them into labor and commercial sex," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in the release. “Today's sentence is a victory not only for the Department and the Human Trafficking Task Force, but also for those women who so bravely came forward and told the truth about their exploitation.”
Campbell forced one victim to engage in commercial sex acts with customers at various other massage parlors, but not at the Day and Night Spa, which testimony showed he operated “cleanly” to avoid law enforcement suspicion, the Justice Department explained. He extorted another victim to pay him more than $25,000 to leave the “Family” by threatening to send a sexually-explicit video recording to her parents in Belarus.
“The sentence handed down today sends a clear message to those who think they can callously prey upon vulnerable women to turn a profit,” said Gary J. Hartwig, Special Agent-in-Charge of HSI in Chicago, in the release. "HSI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who engage in human trafficking are held accountable for their actions.”
Cook County sheriff’s police initiated the investigation and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office assisted in the investigation, which was coordinated by the Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force.
The task force, together with the Salvation Army Family and Community Services STOP-IT Initiative Against Human Trafficking, operate a toll-free hotline, (877) 606-3158, which victims of trafficking or those with information about human trafficking can call for assistance.
Prosecutors included Assistant U.S. Attorneys Diane MacArthur and Steven Grimes, and Special Litigation Counsel John Richmond of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.