A man who admitted handing his underage companion over to an older man in a pay-for-play deal was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison on Monday. A judge in St. Croix District Court took three hours to work out a penalty for defendant Zavon Acoy.
Attorneys representing the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Acoy’s defense counsel argued before District Court Judge Wilma Lewis over the severity of Acoy’s actions in 2017. In a plea agreement reached in July, he admitted bringing his then-17-year-old girlfriend to a home in Peter’s Rest and collected $250 from a man who had sex with her.
Lewis said the 10-year sentence was a mandatory minimum for Acoy’s guilty plea on a sex trafficking of a minor female by force, fraud, or coercion. The judge granted a two-year-thirty-seven-day credit for time served behind bars since his arrest in November 2018.
Acoy was also ordered to serve 15 years of supervised release after serving his time. He was also directed to pay a $5,000 fine, a $100 court fee, and restitution to the victim. The defendant was also told to register as a sex offender when he leaves prison and reenters society.
Defense attorney Yohana Manning argued that his client was in no position to pay any penalties. Acoy had no earnings over the time he sat in detention, awaiting the outcome of his case. “He is indigent and can be expected to remain indigent for some time to come,” Manning said.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Everard Potter told the court that the defendant would still have productive years of work ahead of him when he finished his prison term. After a lengthy discussion, both sides agreed Acoy could pay something if given a schedule and a rate to pay over time.
An investigation into the circumstances that led to Acoy’s arrest and the arrest of the man who bought sexual favors from a female minor is contained in an affidavit filed in District Court in August 2017. Homeland Security Special Agent Christopher McGrath said he was notified by the Virgin Islands Police Department that a 17-year-old female identified as Jane Doe complained her boyfriend – later identified as Acoy – had strangled her.
The document also included a statement from Jane Doe that Acoy had turned her over to the same individual for commercial sex twice and that she saw the defendant accept cash each time, while she received none.
Lewis said that once the court accepted Acoy’s guilty plea, those actions were accepted as facts. “And it is an undisputed fact that the defendant received cash for allowing the codefendant to engage in a commercial sex act,” the judge said.
Before the sentence was pronounced, the defendant was given a chance to speak.
In a rambling statement lasting several minutes, Acoy said he accepted responsibility. Lewis ordered that he be turned over to the Bureau of Prisons at the end of the hearing.
Codefendant James Phillip is scheduled to stand trial on April 25.