Mother, son accused of running prostitution enterprise out of Gastonia home

GASTONIA, N.C. — A "known pimp" directed his mother to operate a prostitution enterprise from behind jail walls, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

A federal grand jury indicted Samuel Pratt and his mother, Daphne Pratt, 52, on a variety of human trafficking, prostitution and child pornography-related charges.

Only Eyewitness News was in court Wednesday as prosecutors revealed details about the case.

According to investigators, Samuel Pratt was arrested earlier this year in South Carolina on a firearms charge. Prosecutors said he shortly after he was brought to jail, he began making phone calls to his mother, who lives in Gastonia.

Prosecutors said Daphne Pratt helped continue to run the prostitution enterprise and even faciliated a phone call between Samuel and a teenage prostitute. Gastonia was Pratt's home base and the "nexus of the crime," a federal prosecutor said.

South Carolina prosecutors sought and obtained additional charges against the Pratts after listening to the recorded phone calls.

Some of the victims are 15- and 17-year-old girls, investigators said.

The feds said clients would meet with the prostitutes at the Gastonia home as well as in an apartment across the street. Documents and prosecutors did not say where the home is located.

An federal defender representing Daphne Pratt at a detention hearing Wednesday argued that she had no criminal history, and it was her son who was the "potential armed career criminal."

However, prosecutors successfully argued to the judge that Daphne Pratt should remain behind bars to "ensure the safety of young girls."

A judge ordered Daphne Pratt to remain behind bars during a detention hearing Wednesday. She will be transported to South Carolina to face the charges.

Samuel Pratt is currently in custody in South Carolina.

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