ALEXANDRIA, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – A Louisiana man will spend nearly four decades in prison after pleading guilty to conspiring to force juveniles to help build his brownie business and committing sexual crimes against them.
According to the United States Attorney’s Office, 39-year-old Darnell Fulton of Pineville was sentenced to 35 years in federal prison after entering a guilty plea on charges that he “used violence, sexual abuse, withholding food, degradation, and intimidation to coerce several minors to work for him.”
Fulton baked and sold brownies and forced the juvenile victims to sell them, bringing him profits.
Court records indicate this activity took place between June 2016 and May 2019. During that time the defendant would make the victims travel to 20 or 30 locations such as plazas, car dealerships, law firms, and other local businesses to sell the brownies.
Victims said they worked late into the night either selling or baking the brownies then would sell them during the day. The victims told investigators the typical work week was seven days and they were forced to reach a daily sales quota. Those who did not meet the daily quota were subjected to stiff punishments, according to the U.S. Attorney.
“The defendant regularly assaulted the victims because he was not satisfied with their daily work performance, especially if they did not meet his projected sales daily quota. For example, the defendant frequently required the victims to stay in a push-up or plank position for hours, and he often whipped them with a belt if they got out of proper form,” according to a U.S. Attorney release.
Fulton also forced the minors that labored for him to engage in sex acts with him.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that Fulton’s 35-year sentence demonstrates how aggressively the Justice Department will prosecute those who engage in human trafficking whether forced labor or sex.
In addition to his federal prison sentence, Fulton was also ordered to pay restitution of $979,800 to his victims.
The defendant’s actions, in this case, were deplorable and despicable. Forced labor is a form of modern-day slavery and we have a duty to protect the most vulnerable of our society. He had no hesitation in torturing and demoralizing these victims, his children. We are grateful for this sentence and hope the victims can begin the healing process. This defendant is a danger to society, has no regard for human life, and we believe it is appropriate that he will be spending a long time in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons.United States Attorney for Western District of Louisiana, Brandon B. Brown
The case was a joint investigation involving law enforcement at every level including the FBI which credited all involved parties with bringing an end to the victim’s suffering.
“Mr. Fulton’s guilty plea and the sentencing today should be of great comfort to the victims of his depravity,” New Orleans FBI Special Agent in Charge Douglas A. Williams, Jr. said. “We thank our partners, the Alexandria Police Department, United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana, and DOJ Civil Rights Division for their assistance in this case. We will continue the work of rooting out those who seek to target minors for their own bizarre obsessions.”
Anyone with information about human trafficking should contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888, 24 hours a day. To learn more about human trafficking visit humantraffickinghotline.org.