• 72°

Gates man sentenced for prostitution

NORFOLK, VA – A Gates County man will spend the next 20 years behind bars and then face a lifetime of supervised release for transporting multiple women to Virginia for prostitution.

Dana O’Brien Knight, 33, of Gates, was sentenced Oct. 30 in federal court. He pled guilty July 15 for recruiting, enticing, harboring, and/or transporting a person, and to benefit financially or by receiving anything of value, from participation in a venture which has engaged in an act described in violation of paragraph (1), knowing, or in reckless disregard of the fact, that means of force, threats of force, fraud, coercion, or any combination of such means will be used to cause the person to engage in a commercial sex act.

Court documents reflect that, over the course of one year, Knight transported at least three women to Virginia and other locations for purposes of furthering his prostitution business. One victim was transported by Knight to locations in North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere before ultimately being brought to Virginia.

He was arrested in November of last year in Virginia Beach after one of his victims called 911 seeking emergency assistance. The ensuing investigation in his case revealed that Knight was physically violent towards his victims and beat one woman so badly that she was hospitalized on multiple occasions.

Prior to his arrest on these charges, Knight had been involved in the prostitution business for nearly nine years, making approximately $20,000 per month.

Court documents obtained by the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald included an affidavit filed by an FBI agent currently assigned to the Violent Crime squad in the Norfolk Field Office. In a previous law enforcement job, that agent served as the principal investigator in state and federal cases involving narcotics trafficking and violent gang/criminal enterprise organizations, and worked closely on and assisted with multiple cases involving human trafficking and crimes against children.

In his sworn affidavit, the FBI agent showed probable cause, “to believe that from on or about October 2013 to on or about November 16, 2014, in the Eastern District of Virginia and elsewhere, Dana O’Brien Knight has been involved in sex trafficking.”

The agent stated in the affidavit that he interviewed two individuals that cooperated with the investigation. He said the first witness, interviewed on Nov. 16 of last year, stated they were held against their will and, “forced to prostitute for Knight for approximately a year, beginning in October 2013.

“(The witness) stated that Knight was holding their social security card, as well as identification, and had threatened them if they tried to leave,” the agent wrote. “(The witness) stated they had tried to get away from Knight several times, but that Knight ‘beat’ them ‘to a bloody pulp,’ and put them in the hospital on approximately four occasions.”

Additionally, the FBI agent said the witness told him that Knight had allegedly threatened to kill them, and further stated that, “Knight had knowledge of where (the witness’s) family lives and has purposefully driven (the witness) further and further away from their family for prostitution.

“(The witness) stated that Knight had at least two additional individuals currently prostituting for him, but that he had had many other individuals working for him in the past,” the agent wrote in the affidavit.

“(The witness) stated that Knight drove them to multiple states to prostitute, most recently transporting them to Virginia Beach,” the agent wrote. “Knight paid for the hotel rooms used to host prostitution appointments and posted prostitution advertisements for services on www.backpage.com.”

The witness told the agent they were forced to give all prostitution earnings to Knight.

Another cooperating witness told the agent they were brought from Ahoskie to a hotel in Virginia Beach by Knight for prostitution on or about Nov. 13, 2014. That witness also said they prostituted for Knight for several days, and that Knight set the rates/cost for the prostitution appointments. That witness also stated they gave all their prostitution earnings to Knight.

The second witness stated that Knight had been violent, including striking them in the head and pulling their hair. They further stated that Knight had two additional individuals prostituting for him.

In his interview with the suspect, the agent said Knight stated he was in a relationship with the first witness and had been prostituting that person for almost a year in several states to include Virginia, Pennsylvania, and several other states.

“Knight confessed to driving (witnesses #1 and #2) to hotels in Virginia Beach, Virginia, to conduct prostitution appointments,” the agent wrote in the affidavit. “Knight further confessed to assaulting both witnesses, posting prostitution advertisements for both witnesses, and receiving all the money from their prostitution appointments.”

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; John S. Adams, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office; and James A. Cervera, Virginia Beach Chief of Police, made the announcement on the Knight case after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen.  Assistant U.S. Attorney V. Kathleen Dougherty and Elizabeth M. Yusi prosecuted the case.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal