Feds: Death row exoneree wanted to build prostitution empire

Feds: Former death row inmate came to Oahu to build prostitution empire
Updated: Jan. 10, 2018 at 9:52 PM HST
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Federal investigators say a man who once spent time on Delaware's death row came to Hawaii intending to develop a major prostitution ring — and that he threatened, beat and raped women to force them to cooperate.

On Wednesday, Isaiah McCoy and his wife, Tawana Roberts, appeared briefly before a judge.

McCoy is charged with one count of human trafficking, and Roberts, a Schofield Barracks soldier, is charged with helping her husband recruit women.

In court documents obtained by Hawaii News Now, authorities argued it's imperative that McCoy stays in jail while awaiting trial because he's demonstrated a credible intent to continue committing crimes.

Evidence submitted by prosecutors shows McCoy in a Facebook Live video posted in September 2017 driving around Oahu, in the company of accused murderer named Jordan Smith, with what appears to be drugs and handgun in the back seat.

It's in that video that federal authorities say McCoy "alludes to a prostitution ring he set up in Waikiki" and "appears to suggest an intent to recruit more girls for his business."

In a portion of the video that was obtained by Hawaii News Now, McCoy himself addresses the camera, saying: " Waikiki man, rich n****s out here, you feel me? Y'all n****s don't be seeing me on social media because I've been hiding. I got too much money, you feel me?"

The 17-page motion also details police interviews with two women who say McCoy coerced them into prostitution. The women allege they were held captive in a hotel room and suffered beatings and rapes by McCoy, though he has not been charged with any crime related to those accusations.

"I think that's where the government falls a little short," said attorney Victor Bakke.

Despite the allegations, Bakke says federal investigators might be in for a difficult time convincing a judge to keep McCoy in jail until trial.

"Because they're talking a lot about these other victims, but they haven't come forward officially. There's been no other charges filed, and the government is basically saying 'Well we think he's doing this stuff. He used to be in a gang. He has this past,'" said Bakke. "But they don't really have much on him as far as the dangerousness issue."

McCoy left the courtroom smiling after his case was continued until next week, keeping up the confident attitude he showed to Hawaii News Now in interviews conducted prior his latest arrest.

According to court documents, McCoy denies being involved in any sex trafficking — though when asked about the women who called him their pimp, McCoy told police he was their manager, adding the women paid him for protection and a place to stay.

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