Yohanna Gonzalez-McFarlane, 39, of the Dominican Republic, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ruth Miller in District Court on Tuesday and entered a guilty plea to charges involving prostitution at the Underground Nightclub on St. Thomas, U.S. Attorney Gretchen Shappert announced.
According to Shappert, Gonzalez-McFarlane pleaded guilty to four counts charging her with bringing illegal aliens to the United States for financial gain, in violation of Title 8, United States Code, Section 1324(a)(2)(B)(ii), and to transportation for prostitution, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2421.
Pursuant to the plea agreement, Gonzalez-McFarlane admitted to illegally bringing in and transporting women from Venezuela and the Dominican Republic in 2018 and 2019 for the purpose of having the women perform commercial sex acts at the Underground Nightclub. Gonzalez-McFarlane admitted to profiting financially from employing 12 different undocumented female aliens who performed commercial sex acts at the Underground Nightclub, one of whom was just 17 years old.
Gonzalez-McFarlane acknowledged and agreed that many of the women were required to perform commercial sex acts at the Underground Nightclub to pay off their smuggling debt. She further admitted that the nightclub had three small rooms in the rear of the club, each having a bed that was used for commercial sex acts.
Gonzalez-McFarlane faces up to a maximum of 55 years imprisonment with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison. She further faces possible deportation or removal from the United States, mandatory sex offender registration and a minimum term of supervised release of five years and up to life.
Her sentencing date had not been scheduled as of Tuesday.
The case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security Investigations, FBI and assisted and supported by the Virgin Islands Police Department, U.S. Marshals Service, United States Postal Investigative Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and Customs and Border Protection. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Meredith Edwards and Donna Rainwater.