A state grand jury voted to file a 16-count indictment against a 40-year-old man who was allegedly operating a human trafficking network in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, after one of the victims, a teen girl, escaped from a Bordentown hotel where she allegedly had been held captive and sex trafficked, according to U.S. Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ).
Nieem Johnson, whose last known address was in Philadelphia, has been charged by a grand jury with two counts of human trafficking (first degree), conspiracy (first degree), two counts of facilitating human trafficking (second degree), advertising commercial sex abuse of a minor (first degree), promoting organized street crime (first degree), criminal restraint (third degree), promoting prostitution of a minor (first degree), engaging in prostitution with a minor (second degree), three counts of sexual assault (second degree), criminal coercion (third degree), endangering the welfare of a child (third degree), and aggravated assault (third degree), according to a press release through the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General.
Johnson’s alleged co-defendant, Thomas Fulcher, 54, of Marlton, was charged with sexual assault (second degree) and engaging in prostitution with a minor (second degree).
Johnson was arrested on Aug. 31, 2023, in Atlantic City, following a months-long investigation by detectives from the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) Missing Persons and Human Trafficking Unit, NJSP Special Investigations Unit, and DCJ, according to the press release.
It is alleged that the crimes occurred between Feb. 28, 2023, and when Johnson was taken into custody.
The investigation began after NJSP detectives were dispatched to the Bordentown Township Police Department to investigate a report of human trafficking on March 3, 2023. Bordentown police officers had located a 15-year-old victim, who allegedly ran away from a hotel room in Bordentown to escape from Johnson. The investigation found that Johnson transported the victim to the hotel against her will to engage in commercial sex acts, according to the press release.
During the investigation, detectives allegedly discovered an online advertisement offering the juvenile for prostitution, and detectives linked Johnson to the ads. During his arrest on Aug. 31, an additional female victim who Johnson was allegedly forcing to engage in commercial sex acts for several months was identified and safely recovered. The investigation revealed Johnson had allegedly used threats and physical violence, including choking the second victim by grabbing her around the neck, pushing her against a wall, and lifting her off the ground by her neck, to coerce her into remaining in the sex trade for his financial gain.
Johnson has been lodged in the Atlantic County Correctional Facility, where he will remain detained pending trial in Superior Court in Atlantic County. Fulcher was released pending trial.
Convictions of first-degree criminal charges can be punishable by up to 20 years in state prison. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000. Third-degree charges carry a sentence of three to five years in New Jersey State Prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
The investigation was led by NJSP Detective Michael Fama.