A Perry County couple was sentenced last week in federal court in connection with charges that they forced minor children in their care to make and sell homemade items or be subjected to various punishments.
According to statement from the office of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky Robert M. Duncan Jr., Jordan Allen Otis, 26, and Tiffany Louis Walsh, 34, were sentenced in federal court to 360 months and 108 months in federal prison respectively, by U.S. District Judge Robert Wier for labor trafficking charges. Otis had previously pled guilty to using force and threats of force to obtain labor and services, and Walsh had previously pled guilty to benefiting financially from labor trafficking.
According to their plea agreements, Otis and Walsh used threats of physical force to compel minor victims to make various homemade items and sell those items, by walking door to door for approximately six hours a day. Otis also admitted to forcing the victims to hand out flyers he made, which offered various services the victims would provide for payment. Otis further admitted that, if the victims did not comply, they had to choose a punishment from a “punishment jar,” which was filled with handwritten punishments he would impose. Otis kept all or most of the money for himself, and using it to purchase electronics, cigarettes and food for himself and Walsh. Their criminal conduct occurred from March 2016 through May 2017, in Hazard and other locations, including Tennessee and South Carolina.
“Protecting the most vulnerable, including children, from harm is a fundamental priority for law enforcement. Because of the dedicated work of FBI and KSP personnel, the defendants were held accountable for their crimes,” Duncan said. “The lengthy sentences imposed underscore the seriousness of the conduct and help ensure the defendants are not able to victimize others for the foreseeable future.”
Under federal law, Otis and Walsh must serve 85 percent of their prison sentences and upon their release will be under the supervision of the U.S. Probation Office for three years.
U.S. Attorney Duncan; James Robert Brown, special agent in charge, FBI, Louisville Field Office; and Commissioner Rodney Brewer, Kentucky State Police, jointly made the announcement.
The investigation was directed by the FBI and KSP. The United States was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hydee Hawkins.