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Men involved in Columbia prostitution ring sentenced

Ronald Clark was sentenced Monday to 30 months in federal prison for his role in a Columbia prostitution ring.

The sentence was handed down just hours after Barry Manthe recieved an 18-month sentence for participating in the same scheme.

Both pleaded guilty in September to using the internet to promote a racketeering enterprise, in this case a prostitution business that operated out of a Columbia residence.

The investigation began when FBI agents learned in June 2016 that another man, Kenneth Jones, was holding a 17-year-old runaway from Wisconsin against her will and forcing her into prostitution, according to the U.S. attorney’s office. She was found at a Columbia residence that Manthe and Clark operated as a brothel, the release said.

The girl told investigators that Manthe was placing paid advertisements on the website Backpage, according to federal authorities. She told investigators that Clark collected a door fee from the prostitutes and the rest of the money went to Jones. The door fees were used to pay monthly bills at the residence and Clark and Manthe split what was left over, according to the release.

A victim of the brothel testified on behalf of Manthe, but declined to testify on behalf of Clark, yeilding the different sentences.

Both Manthe and Clark avoided human trafficking charges through their participation in the prosecution of Kenneth Jones.

At least two other women used for prostitution cooperated with authorities.

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