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Brothel owner gets 2 years
He was the No. 2 man in a Hillsborough-Polk prostitution ring, federal prosecutors say.
By Kevin Graham, Times Staff Writer
Published February 26, 2008
TAMPA - Federal prosecutors described Orlando Ceballos as the No. 2 man behind a prostitution ring that operated brothels in Hillsborough and Polk counties for four years.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge James Whittemore sentenced him to two years in prison after Ceballos, 34, pleaded guilty to owning and operating at least two of the brothels in Davenport and Haines City.
Blanca Iris Ceballos, Orlando Ceballos' estranged aunt, was also scheduled to appear for sentencing before Whittemore. When she didn't show up, the judge issued a warrant for her arrest.
Blanca Ceballos, also known as "Millie," pleaded guilty in November to her role in the brothel operations by transporting prostitutes to different locations.
She faces a maximum of five years in prison.
In June 2005, a federal indictment charged 11 people in the prostitution ring. Orlando Ceballos was the last person to plead guilty, which he did in November.
Prosecutors said Ceballos, who lives in Haines City and also goes by "Pepe," was one of four managers in the prostitution ring.
Investigators said the group operated at least six brothels in Hillsborough and Polk countiesfrom about 2001 until October 2005.
Men would arrive at the home to pay the doorman a fee, usually $25, and receive a token or card as proof of payment. Prostitutes would collect the tokens and redeem them later for wages.
The women received about half the money paid by the johns, and the house kept the rest.
Every two weeks or so, brothel managers would bring new women to the houses. They were often illegal immigrants, some flown in from as far away as New York, Chicago and Puerto Rico, court records showed.
Whittemore, who sentenced most of the defendants in the case, said the prostitutes were "victims" looking for ways to survive. Ceballos and others took advantage of that, the judge said.
The others already serving prison time in the case received sentences that ranged from five to 33 months, depending on their involvement.