TAMPA — An accused pimp who escaped a raft of prostitution-related charges without serving prison time is now facing two decades behind bars after authorities say he committed a probation violation by visiting a Tampa strip club.
Charles Fox, 38, was arrested in 2011 and charged with deriving support from proceeds of prostitution, forcing another to become a prostitute and sex trafficking, among other offenses.
Tampa police officers said Fox brutally reigned over a group of young women he recruited from night clubs and restaurants, including Applebee's. Fox prostituted the women using online ads, police said.
When it came time to build a case against Fox, however, the women police described as his victims were unwilling to testify. Authorities said the women were afraid of Fox, who took a plea bargain last year and was sentenced to supervised probation on some of the charges, including deriving support from prostitution.
"With these cases, sex trafficking or human trafficking in general, it's very hard to keep witnesses in line," Tampa police detective Mike Victor said. "Mr. Fox got a very, very lenient sentence because of the victims being in fear."
Fox's luck, if such it was, didn't hold. Victor said he was recently encountered by law-enforcement officers responding to a fight at Scores Gentlemen's Club on N Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa.
Fox, who was living in Pinellas County, was found to be violating the terms of his probation by coming to Hillsborough County without the supervision of his probation officer, Victor said.
"He was out frequenting the adult entertainment establishments where he was once recruiting girls," Victor said.
Two weeks ago, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Chet Tharpe sentenced Fox to 20 years in prison for the violation.
Fox's attorney asked the judge this week to reduce the sentence. Tharpe is expected to rule on the request this month.
Peter Jamison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4157.