A Bell County man was sentenced to 10 years in prison Tuesday for forcing women into prostitution in at least four Central Texas cities in 2016.

Jason Demond Ford, 45, of Harker Heights, pleaded guilty to second-degree felony trafficking of a person in Waco’s 19th State District Court and was sentenced to 10 years in prison in a plea agreement with the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office.

Ford had been charged with continuous trafficking of persons, a first-degree felony charge that carries a minimum sentence of 25 years without parole, up to life in prison without parole.

As part of the plea bargain, prosecutors reduced the charge and agreed to dismiss a state jail felony unauthorized use of a motor vehicle count in exchange for his guilty plea.

“While I am grateful that this defendant chose to take responsibility and plead guilty to his action, I hope that now being registered as a sex offender for the remainder of his life and labeled a human trafficker will send a message to the public that this behavior will not be tolerated in McLennan County,” prosecutor Sydney Tuggle said.

Ford, who will be given credit for about two years he spent in the county jail, must serve at least five years in prison before he can seek parole.

Ford’s attorney, Jason Darling, said prosecutors initially offered Ford a 40-year plea agreement, which he rejected. Darling declined additional comment.

According to arrest records filed in the case, McLennan County Sheriff’s Office Detective Joseph Scaramucci arrested a women identified only as K.C. at a Waco motel as part of an undercover sting operation in January 2016. The woman received numerous phone calls from Ford while she was at the sheriff’s office.

“While speaking with Ford, he indicated to her that she was not to speak with law enforcement until either he or a public defender could meet with her first. He went on to indicate to her that all she needed to do was stick with the ‘drill,’” arrest records show.

After searching the contents of her phone, Scaramucci said he learned that Ford “pimps” out women and assaults K.C. “if she does not want to engage in sexual intercourse for a fee.”

K.C. told investigators Ford forced her and seven other women to work as prostitutes in Waco, Temple, Killeen and Austin and he takes all the proceeds. She said Ford forced her to work as a prostitute for about a year, according to records filed in the case.

Investigators determined K.C. was a victim of trafficking and did not pursue the prostitution charges against her.

Scaramucci said he is grateful the district attorney’s office sent a message to Ford that this behavior will not be tolerated in our community.

“We will continue to work together to ensure those who traffic women are held accountable, while working with organizations like Unbound to ensure these victims can begin to repair their lives,” Scaramucci said.

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