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HACKENSACK -- An Orange woman has pleaded guilty to helping run a prostitution ring in North Jersey that coerced teenage girls into becoming sex workers, Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced in a release Thursday.
According to Porrino, Ernestine Bowman, 32, worked with her husband, stepson, and two other women to run a human trafficking ring that advertised its prostitutes on Backpage.com, and brought them to meet clients at motels in South Hackensack, Clifton, and other North Jersey towns.
Under the plea deal Bowman agreed to in Bergen County Superior Court Wednesday, she will likely be sentenced to 10 years in prison with 39 months of parole ineligibility, authorities said.
Authorities alleged Bowman's stepson, Glen Bowman, Jr. 22, met a 16-year-old runaway in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 2014, and worked with his father, 41-year-old Glen Bowman, Sr. of Newark, to coerce her into a life of prostitution. The girl was trafficked to New Jersey, where authorities alleged the elder Glen Bowman and his wife ran a prostitution ring.
Authorities say Jessica Renee Copeland, 28, of Newark, acted as the boss of the teen girl and the other prostitutes in the ring, and that Tokina Williams, 33, of Raleigh, N.C., acted as a prostitute and supervisor of the young girl.
The five were indicted on various charges related to the ring in April 2015, after an undercover operation, Porrino said. Ernestine Bowman is the third of the group to plead guilty.
"This plea ensures that the defendant will face a lengthy term behind bars for her role in the brutal sexual exploitation of a 16-year-old runaway," Porrino said in the release.
"Bowman helped her husband trap a vulnerable girl in a miserable life of sexual slavery, where the victim faced threats of violence if she did not meet the demands of her captors."
The South Hackensack Police Department began the investigation into the ring in October of 2014, when an undercover police officer responded to an online ad featuring the teen girl's bare breasts and offering her as an "escort" for $160.
After meeting at a motel on Route 46 in South Hackensack, police arrested some of the ring's alleged leaders, and the teen girl, who had been reported missing in New York State. Investigators say the girl was forced to work as a prostitute five days a week, and was allegedly threatened with violence if she didn't comply.
"Our department has been committed to conducting these undercover operations to flush out the criminality of prostitution and narcotics in our motels," said Chief Joseph Terraccino of the South Hackensack Police Department.
"We remain committed to rescuing these victims from the underworld and arresting the predators who are responsible."
Charges are still pending against Glen Bowman Sr. and Copeland, officials said. Glen Bowman Jr., has pleaded guilty to second-degree conspiracy to promote prostitution and faces a recommended sentence of seven years in prison, Porrino said. Williams pleaded guilty to second-degree promoting prostitution, authorities said.
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