For Immediate Release
Wednesday, March 14, 2018
, United States Attorney
Maria Chapa Lopez
Contact: William Daniels
Jacksonville Pimp Sentenced to Ten Years in Prison on Firearms and Drug Charges
Field Division: Tampa Field Division
Jacksonville, Florida – U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Corrigan has sentenced Christopher Loran Bentley (31, Jacksonville) to 10 years in federal prison, followed by 5 years of supervised release, for possessing a pistol after having been convicted of a felony, and for possessing with intent to distribute crack cocaine and heroin. He pleaded guilty to the offenses on October 19, 2017.
According to court documents, Bentley possessed a stolen firearm outside a house in Jacksonville in April 2017. He was encountered by Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office patrol officers responding to investigate activities at the house. The officers observed Bentley sitting in his parked truck with a bag of marijuana in plain view. The officers ordered Bentley out of the truck, but he resisted and tried to escape. While removing Bentley from the truck, a bag of drugs, including powder cocaine, crack cocaine, and heroin fell from his lap, onto the ground. The firearm was sitting in the driver’s seat, where Bentley had been sitting. Bentley had been previously convicted of selling cocaine.
At sentencing, multiple witnesses’ testimony established that Bentley had been involved in pimping women in the Philips Highway area of Jacksonville for several years. Bentley controlled his sex trafficking victims through violence, threats of violence, coercion, and mental and emotional manipulation. On one occasion, Bentley threatened to bash one of his victims’ teeth in using a gun, broke his hand punching the victim in the head, then forced his victim to pull down her pants so that he could beat her with a pipe. Testimony also established that Bentley had used his victims’ drug addictions to coerce them into prostitution. One of Bentley’s victims died of an overdose in 2016, after obtaining fentanyl and cocaine from him. On another occasion, Bentley fired his gun at another individual who had been trying to collect a debt from one of the women prostituted by Bentley.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Laura Cofer Taylor.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program that has been successful in bringing together all levels of law enforcement to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. In October 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the reinvigoration of PSN and directed all U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to develop districtwide crime reduction strategies, incorporating the lessons learned since the program’s inception in 2001. In the Middle District of Florida, U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez coordinates PSN efforts in cooperation with various federal, state, and local law enforcement officials.