Submitted: March 14, 2018
from United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Missouri - St. Louis
WOLLMAN, SHEPHERD, and ERICKSON, Circuit Judges.
WOLLMAN, Circuit Judge.
found Thomas Thadeus Szczerba guilty of the following four
offenses related to interstate prostitution: one count of
conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States in
violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371; one count of interstate
transportation of an individual to engage in prostitution in
violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2421 and 2; one count of
use of facilities in interstate commerce with intent to aid
an enterprise involving prostitution in violation of 18
U.S.C. §§ 1952(a)(3) and 2; and one count of use of
facilities in interstate commerce with intent to distribute
proceeds from an enterprise involving prostitution in
violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1952(a)(1) and 2. The
district court sentenced Szczerba to 140 months'
imprisonment. Szczerba appeals from the denial of his motion
to suppress evidence, his motion to exclude expert evidence,
his motion for a mistrial, his motion for a new trial based
on the government's failure to disclose certain evidence,
and his motion for judgment of acquittal. Szczerba also
argues that the district court erred in calculating his
sentence and imposed a substantively unreasonable sentence.
moved from Louisiana to Houston, Texas, for a fresh start.
She met Szczerba in 2015, while she was working as a stripper
at a club that he frequented. Szczerba befriended B.M. and
introduced her to Keisha Edwards, a prostitute who used the
alias Stacey Monroe. B.M. eventually moved into the apartment
that Szczerba and Edwards shared. In June 2015, B.M. began
performing sex acts for money, using the alias Avery Monroe.
At that time, she was twenty-two years old.
and Edwards took photos of B.M. and posted them with an
advertisement on Backpage.com, a website known for
advertising prostitutes. Szczerba gave B.M. a phone and a
script to use when customers called. She recorded in a
notebook the customer's first name, the length of time
the customer had requested, and the amount that the customer
had agreed to pay. Szczerba and Edwards set the rates for
B.M.'s services, requiring her to make $1, 000 per day.
B.M. met customers at Szczerba's Houston apartment and at
other locations. After having sex with the men, she gave
Szczerba the money she received.
provided B.M. with condoms, food, clothing, and personal
hygiene products. He controlled when she slept and when she
ate. He regulated her phone access. He carried in his wallet
a card on which were written B.M.'s full name, her social
security number, and her family's address. B.M. testified
that she felt threatened by Szczerba, and she worried that he
would find her family. Szczerba publicly embarrassed and
degraded B.M. by loudly calling her a bitch, a whore, and a
social media account described him as "the king,
professional relationship consultant, thoroughbred, the horse
trainer," and he included hashtags like #PGO and #AOB,
which mean Pimping Going On and All On a Bitch. Law
enforcement officers testified that the term "king"
means pimp, that "stable" refers to the pimp's
prostitutes, and that "thoroughbred trainer" means
a pimp with "the most thoroughly trained girl; the
June 2015, Szczerba drove B.M. from Houston to Chicago,
Illinois, where they met Edwards. Several days later the
three traveled to Wisconsin. On July 10, 2015, they traveled
to St. Louis, where Edwards rented a room at a downtown
hotel. Edwards and B.M. saw customers in each city, after
Szczerba and Edwards placed advertisements for the services
of Stacy and Avery Monroe on Backpage.com.
started her menstrual cycle during the stay in St. Louis.
Szczerba told her to place a make-up sponge in her vagina so
that customers would not know that she was menstruating. The
sponge did not work, however, and B.M. bled on a customer
during vaginal intercourse. B.M. worried that Szczerba would
be angry if the customer did not pay, so she stopped
intercourse and called Szczerba, who instructed her to place
another sponge in her vagina, which she did. B.M. finished
having intercourse with the customer, later describing it as
"excruciating" and "like contractions."
the make-up sponges was lodged in B.M.'s vagina. She
asked Szczerba to take her to the hospital, but he decided to
remove the sponge himself with tweezers. Szczerba eventually
drove B.M. to the hospital to have the sponge removed. As he
dropped her off, Szczerba told B.M. to use her alias and
"Don't be stupid." A physician assistant
removed the sponge and prescribed antibiotics for B.M., who
used the first name Avery and her real last name. Although
Szczerba wanted B.M. to continue working that night, she was
in too much pain to see customers. She resumed working the
had not been meeting her $1, 000 daily quota in St. Louis, so
Szczerba instructed her to go out and find customers. B.M.
and Edwards went to a few bars in downtown St. Louis on July
15, 2015, and eventually met a man named Jordan. The three
went back to Jordan's apartment, where they had drinks
and used cocaine. An argument erupted when Edwards tried to
steal Jordan's phone, causing Edwards to run out of the
apartment. When Jordan and B.M. went down to the lobby of the
apartment building, they discovered Edwards and Szczerba.
According to B.M., "[e]veryone was screaming" and
Jordan "was mad about the phone and was waving a gun at
decided to flee. She lost a shoe as she ran and kicked off
the other one. B.M. testified that she "ran until [she]
found somewhere safe to hide." She climbed inside a
dumpster, where she stayed until she no longer could hear
Szczerba and Edwards calling for her. B.M. then climbed out
of the dumpster, hid behind it, and called a friend in
Houston, who used three-way calling to dial 911 at
approximately 5:27 a.m. on July 16, 2015. When officers
arrived, B.M. was standing shoeless and scared near a
dumpster. Officers brought her to the hospital for medical
Patricia Nijkamp of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police
Department met B.M. at the hospital. Nijkamp was an
intelligence detective at the time and was responsible for
investigating crimes related to human trafficking, sex
trafficking, and labor trafficking.
appeared shaken as she told Nijkamp about how Szczerba kept
her from using her cell phone, from eating, and from
sleeping, until she made $1, 000, and how he forced her to
work while she was menstruating. B.M. gave Nijkamp a black
notebook, which included the script for taking calls and
listed the first names of various men, dates, times,
addresses, lengths of time, and amounts to be charged.
told Nijkamp the room number and hotel name where Szczerba
and Edwards were staying and said that Szczerba had driven
from Texas to Missouri in a gold Mercedes. Nijkamp confirmed
that there was a room registered to Edwards at the hotel and
that there was a gold Mercedes registered to Edwards in the
hotel parking lot. Nijkamp thereafter went to the hotel room,
where Szczerba and Edwards were arrested and refused consent
to a search. After Nijkamp and other law enforcement officers
secured the hotel room and the Mercedes, Nijkamp applied for
a search warrant.
the warrant issued, officers searched the hotel room and the
Mercedes. Among the items they found were several boxes of
condoms, sex toys, dental dams, make-up sponges, feminine
hygiene products, medication prescribed to Avery M., and
several receipts. Szczerba and Edwards were charged in a
seven-count superseding indictment with offenses related to
sex trafficking and prostitution. After the district court
denied the motions to suppress evidence and to exclude expert
evidence, the case proceeded to trial. On the first day of
trial, Edwards pleaded guilty to use of facilities in
interstate commerce with intent to aid an enterprise
involving prostitution and use of facilities in interstate
commerce with intent to distribute proceeds from an
enterprise involving prostitution.
government called as witnesses B.M., Nijkamp, and several
other law enforcement officers. It presented the evidence
discovered in the hotel room and in the Mercedes, as well as
the recording of B.M.'s 911 call, the Backpage.com
advertisements for Stacy and Avery Monroe, and evidence of
Szczerba's bank transactions and his posts on social
media. Over Szczerba's objection, the district court
allowed Detective Derek Stigerts of the Sacramento,
California, Police Department to testify as an expert.
Stigerts defined terms that are commonly used in the
"pimp/prostitution subculture." He also explained
how prostitutes are advertised and how pimps recruit and
the fourth day of trial began, the prosecutor produced a
summary of an interview prepared by Special Agent Jennifer
Lynch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The
summary previously had not been disclosed to defense counsel.
According to the document, Lynch and Nijkamp interviewed a
man who had met B.M. in St. Louis on July 15, 2015. After he
bought B.M. and Edwards drinks, B.M. told the man she had
been a stripper and showed him photos of her wearing
lingerie. At approximately 12:30 or 1:00 a.m., the man
declined to pay the women for sex. Defense counsel
cross-examined Lynch about the contents of the summary and
argued in closing that the incident tended to show that
B.M.-not Szczerba or Edwards-advertised herself as a
fifth day of trial, after the case was submitted to the jury
and the alternate juror was released, one of the jurors
called in to report that he would not be able to continue
serving as a juror. Before the court declared a mistrial and
while it was explaining to the jury what had happened, the
twelfth juror called and said that he could report for duty.
The court overruled ...