PROVIDENCE — A Warwick man was sentenced Tuesday to seven years in federal prison for trafficking a 16-year-old girl for prostitution at motels and homes in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, including Seekonk.
Michael Sabatino, 26, was one of three men who pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Providence to sex trafficking a child and conspiracy to sex traffic a child, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Judge William E. Smith also ordered Sabatino to serve five years’ probation after he completes his prison term.
Prosecutors recommended eight years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
The maximum sentence is 10 years.
Sabatino and two other men, Paris Peters, 26, and Marcus Jamal Gibbs, 30, both of Providence, admitted they recruited, advertised and trafficked the girl for prostitution from August through September 2015 at rooms they rented in Seekonk, Providence, Pawtucket, Johnston, and Warwick, according to court records.
The hotels were not named in the indictment. They also brought the girl to meet customers at private homes, according to court records.
Peters, also known as “Shoota,” was sentenced in April to eight years in prison. Gibbs, also known as “MDot,” is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 21.
The investigation began by Pawtucket police and U.S. Homeland Security Investigations in August 2015. Pawtucket police notified federal agents about the victim, who was missing and feared endangered and being used for prostitution.
The victim was later found at a family member’s home and admitted to being trafficked for prostitution, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Investigators learned Sabatino posted photographs of the victim taken at a motel in Seekonk in various stages of undress on websites, including Backpage.com, offering her for prostitution, according to court records.
The victim had been taken to the motel by Peters and Gibbs, who introduced her to Sabatino, according to court records.
The pictures were taken by Paris Peters. The advertisement claimed the person in the photographs was 20-years-old. The defendants knew the victim was only 16, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.