Three northwest suburban residents pleaded guilty Friday to running a human trafficking ring that targeted vulnerable women, got them hooked on drugs and forced them to work as prostitutes with threats of violence.
Keith ”Shampoo” Williams, 53, pleaded guilty to involuntary servitude, a Class X felony; while Roman Kurek, 51; and Sylvia Topolewski, 38, pleaded guilty to promoting prostitution, according to a statement from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.
According to prosecutors, Williams would target and recruit women, most of whom were poor or homeless, by meeting them on the street and bringing them to live in his Schiller Park home.
Once he gained their trust, he would give them powerful narcotics until they became addicted, then force them to work as prostitutes for more drugs. Prosecutors said the woman would work on the streets, or meet men through arrangements made by phone or online.
The victims were “routinely beaten and randomly assaulted by Williams, who would punish them for so-called ‘bad behavior’ with severe beatings or by withholding food or drugs,” the statement said.
At other times he would punish them by urinating on them or leaving them for days without food as they went through drug withdrawals, prosecutors claimed.
Kurek would drive the women to and from the house to meet with men, while Topolewski would watch the victims, giving them heroin or crack to keep them addicted and under control, prosecutors said.
Williams was sentenced to 8 years in prison, and Kurek to 3 years. Topolewski is awaiting results of a pre-sentencing investigation before learning her fate, prosecutors said.
Their arrests in May 2012 followed a long-term undercover investigation by the state’s attorney’s Human Trafficking Initiative, Schiller Park police and Illinois State Police.
The case originated with reports of possible drug activity and prostitution at Williams’ home, the statement said.