A Dorchester man and a Rehoboth woman face federal human-trafficking charges under an indictment unsealed this week.
Bruce “Arki” Brown, 41, is also charged with trying to arrange with three pals to get alleged victims to stop cooperating with investigators or appearing before a grand jury, which was particularly inconvenient for him since he was already locked up because of an earlier indictment in the case and had to try to use code words and gender switching to ask alleged co-conspirators to talk to them without tipping off any investigators who might be listening in on the phone calls – only it didn’t work, since they were listening in on not only his phone calls but those of at least one of the alleged co-conspirators, according to court records.
According to the US Attorney’s office in Boston, Brown is now charged with five counts of sex trafficking by force for cases dating to 2004, fraud, or coercion; one count of sex trafficking of a minor by force, fraud and coercion; one count of transportation of a minor for purposes of prostitution; and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, as well as obstruction of justice and witness tampering. He faces a potential life sentence if convicted.
Muriel Close, 42, of Rehoboth, was charged with conspiracy to commit sex trafficking for her alleged involvement in trafficking two women in 2012 and one in 2019.
An affidavit by a Newton Police officer who worked on the investigation with the FBI details Brown’s efforts to get one of the women to stop ratting him out to the feds and start telling them he’s really not that bad a guy, while he was being held pending trial at the federal Wyatt Detention Facility in Rhode Island earlier this year, after his initial February arrest in the case. On one phone conversation, the affidavit states, Brown referred to his “Plan B” to get at least three of his pals to either threaten or sweet-talk victims into stopping their cooperation.
On Feb. 28 – just 11 days after Brown was expressly warned by a judge to not try to influence any possible witnesses – a witness told investigators that she’d learned Brown was threatening to “take people out” if he learned they cooperated with the feds.
On a March 6 phone call, though, Brown discussed his angst and urged a pal to use a softer touch to convince one possible witness not to testify before a grand jury, according to the affidavit. “I’m stressed out man, I’m stressed out man, I need your help real bad,” he began, asking his friend to call the woman and convince her she should feel sorry for him because “they tryna give me damn near life man ya feel me?” Brown then discussed “the dude,” which the affidavit says he typically used to refer to the women, in an unsuccessful attempt to throw any investigators listening in off the scent:
Just say yo there ain’t no hard feelings dude, but help me out, like yo, the dude gotta know just write a letter say yo, misunderstanding, ya feel me? And get it notarized you know what I mean? No hard feelings, something like that, ya feel me? I really I really need help right now.