A human trafficking defendant's sentence was chopped in half Thursday because she worked with the Lee County Sheriff's Office to produce a video to help young women recognize the signs of the crime.
Naomi Vasquez was sentenced in October to 30 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to her role in forcing three women into sexual servitude in Bonita Springs. Along with boyfriend Derrick Ned, who was sentenced to 57 months, the couple ran an escort service. They used the women's drug addictions to force them into prostitution.
The operation came to light in January 2010 during a prostitution sting by detectives. Two of the women arrested told detectives about Ned feeding them drugs and forcing them to work. Within a week they found a third victim.
Vasquez, who has been in custody since last year, agreed to make a public service announcement-oriented video with detectives on the Human Trafficking Task Force. She also provided information as a witness to a money laundering operation. The video will be used to train deputies and educate school-age students, said her attorney, Sean O'Halloran of Fort Myers.
Based on those actions, U.S. District Judge Charlene Honeywell reduced Vasquez's sentence to 15 months -almost all the
time she has served in custody.
"I'm impressed by that to the extent that it'll help young females who find themselves involved in human trafficking matters," Honeywell said. "I'm most impressed by the video because it does show you're remorseful, but not only are you remorseful, but you're helping others."
O'Halloran said Vasquez wasn't ordered to make the video, but something she volunteered to do.
"This wasn't really great lawyering - she did this," he said. "Naomi really did some important things here, and she got credit for it."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas Molloy filed the motion to reduce Vasquez's sentence based on detectives telling him how it will help the public.
"She spoke very directly and very explicitly about human trafficking and what you can do to avoid being in the situation," Molloy told Honeywell, saying that deputies believe the video will save at least one life. "The impact is immeasurable."