Charlotte man sentenced to almost 20 years

Published 10:00 pm Sunday, December 8, 2019

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Sex trafficking case involved Polk County victim

POLK COUNTY—A Charlotte man was sentenced this week to 19.5 years in federal prison for sex trafficking a Polk County minor. 

Willie Dishon Matthew Obadiah, 32, of Charlotte, was sentenced to 235 months in prison on Thursday in Miami, Florida. 

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Obadiah pleaded guilty in February 2019 admitting that he met the minor victim through Facebook and communicated with her through Facebook Messenger and text messages while she lived in Polk County. 

“Through his communications with the victim, Obadiah learned that she was a minor,” states a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. “In fact, he asked her to send a photograph of her identification card to him. When he saw her age on the photograph, he sent her a message stating that he wished she had a ‘fake id’ instead.” 

Obadiah found out the victim was a runaway and agreed to pick her up, according to reports. He then began prostituting her at various hotels, beginning in North Carolina and then in Miami. Obadiah reportedly told the minor victim how much to charge for sex acts, how to deal with customers or ‘johns’ and what rules to abide by, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Obadiah also placed advertisements online for the victim. 

The victim ended up running away from Obadiah. 

U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom said during the sentencing Thursday that she considered the significant mental and physical trauma incurred by the minor victim as a result of Obadiah’s crime. 

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse, which was launched by the Department of Justice in May 2006. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force in partnership with the Federal South Florida Human Trafficking Task Force investigated the case with assistance from the FBI, Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina. 

Obadiah’s restitution hearing was scheduled for Feb. 28, 2020.