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Originally published July 22, 2011 at 6:42 PM | Page modified July 22, 2011 at 11:46 PM

Seattle man accused of running lucrative prostitution ring

A Seattle man made thousands of dollars running an "organized criminal enterprise" in which he beat and intimidated girls and young women into working as prostitutes, according to criminal charges filed Friday by King County prosecutors.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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A Seattle man made thousands of dollars running an "organized criminal enterprise" in which he beat and intimidated girls and young women into working as prostitutes, according to criminal charges filed Friday by King County prosecutors.

Since being arrested and charged last year with promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor, Shacon Barbee has been the focus of a continuing investigation by Kent police. That investigation resulted in the addition of nine charges against Barbee on Friday, according to King County prosecutors.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Sean O'Donnell said in charging documents that since 2007 Barbee led an "organized criminal enterprise" in which he used "charm, intimidation and violence to recruit and manage females."

Barbee, 32, was charged Friday with leading organized crime, three counts of promoting commercial sexual abuse of a minor, two counts of promoting prostitution and tampering with a witness.

Barbee is also charged with three counts of first-degree theft for allegedly falsifying details about his illegal income so he could collect more than $32,000 in disability payments from the state Department of Social and Health Services and the Social Security Administration after he reported that he was mentally ill.

"Barbee accumulated significant financial gains from this unlawful activity, which he then used and invested to further his enterprise," O'Donnell wrote in charging paperwork.

Barbee is a Level III sex offender who has a long criminal history, including convictions for second-degree child rape and communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.

In the latest charges, he is accused of forcing three young women into working as prostitutes and then pocketing all of the money they earned. On most days, each woman earned more than $1,000 working as a prostitute, prosecutors say.

According to charges:

One 17-year-old girl, who had worked for Barbee the longest, was entrusted to recruit new prostitutes through online social-networking sites. The girl started working as a prostitute for Barbee at age 16.

An 18-year-old woman told police she started working for Barbee in May 2010, when she was a juvenile. She said Barbee got her a room at a motel near Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and forbade her to leave. The woman said she advertised sex on backpage.com, an online advertising site that recently has come under fire from Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn for running ads from juvenile prostitutes.

A third women, a 20-year-old, said she met Barbee in early 2010 and worked for him for about eight months. The woman claimed she averaged 10 to 15 "dates" every night, with instructions from Barbee to charge $150 for sex. The woman told investigators she earned an average of $1,500 each night.

The 20-year-old woman said she also advertised on backpage.com. She said Barbee expected all of his prostitutes to earn $1,000 each day in online work.

Barbee allegedly beat the women with a leather riding crop, which he called his "pimp hand," prosecutors said. The women said they were forbidden from sleeping and talking to people without his permission.

Barbee's cellphone records revealed detailed information about how he ran his operation, O'Donnell wrote in charges.

Earlier this year, police searched Barbee's storage unit and found a safe containing $18,300 in cash, $10,806 in receipts from high-end retailer Gucci and a large amount of women's lingerie.

Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or jensullivan@seattletimes.com

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