Greenbelt, Maryland – Robert Carl Diienno, age 32, formerly of Laurel, Maryland, pleaded guilty on August 4, 2020, to three counts of enticement to travel in interstate commerce for the purposes of prostitution.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge John Eisert of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Chief Russell E. Hamill III of the Laurel Police Department.
According to his plea agreement, from at least November 2016 through June 2017, Diienno acted as a pimp for Victim 1, and at other times for Victims 2 and 3, who were all adult women. During that time, Diienno persuaded, enticed, induced, and coerced the victims to engage in a prostitution enterprise that included travel between Maryland and Washington, D.C., Virginia, Florida, and South Carolina in order to service “dates” in acts of prostitution. The victims provided any money earned from the commercial sex to Diienno, including transferring payments electronically through Internet-based payment services, such as PayPal and Venmo.
As detailed in his plea agreement, Diienno and the victims resided at a residence in Laurel, which was used as a group home and the base of the enterprise. “Meeting minutes” recovered from the house identify the location as “Duh ho house.” Some of the meeting minutes are signed by one of the victims and record attendance at the meeting; a report on potential new recruits; and the “Comptroller’s Report” that showed the amount earned by each of the victims related to their prostitution activities. In the residence and on Diienno’s laptop law enforcement recovered documents titled, “ho Training Manual,” “ho Rules,” and “Pimp/ho Contract.” The documents stated requirements that a “ho” submits to the control of the “Pimp,” including accepting any punishment the Pimp decides to inflict, with certain limitations, such as punishment must not incur permanent bodily harm, and must stop immediately if blood is drawn, among others.
A text exchange in late May 2017, between Diienno and Victim 3 demonstrated how Diienno coerced the victims. When Diienno persuaded Victim 3 to “walk the streets” in Washington, D.C., Victim 3 claimed to be ill. Diienno told Victim 3, “I care about seeing you become a strong ho and a strong person in general…Taking you home is what would show that I don’t care. That would mean I don’t give a f*** about your development as a person.”
On June 1, 2017, Laurel Police Department was called to the residence for a disturbance at that location. Victim 1 and Victim 3 were found hiding in a nearby treeline and reported that Diienno had assaulted Victim 1 when she refused to walk the streets. Diienno was arrested.
During the subsequent investigation, two firearms belonging to Diienno were recovered from the Laurel residence. At least one victim recalled seeing Diienno handle a firearm and was intimidated by that behavior.
As part of his plea agreement, Diienno must register as a sex offender in the places where he resides, where he is an employee, and where he is a student, under the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (SORNA).
Diienno faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each of the three counts of enticement to travel to engage in prostitution. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel has scheduled sentencing for December 8, 2020, at 2:00 p.m.
This case was investigated by law enforcement agencies that are members of the Prince George’s County Human Trafficking Task Force, part of the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, formed in 2007 to discover and rescue victims of human trafficking while identifying and prosecuting offenders. Members include federal, state and local law enforcement, as well as victim service providers and local community members. For more information about the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, please visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/md/priorities_human.html.
Report suspected instances of human trafficking to HSI’s tip line at 866-DHS-2ICE (1-866-347-2423) or by completing its online tip form. Both are staffed around the clock by investigators.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended HSI and the Laurel Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Baldwin, who is prosecuting the case.
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