A Springfield man pleaded guilty Monday to trafficking young women for sex in central Illinois.
Franshon Stapleton, 47, pleaded guilty to four sex trafficking charges in federal court in Peoria. He faces between 15 years and life in prison on those counts when he is sentenced in January 2021.
Stapleton recruited women from Peoria, Champaign, and Sangamon counties, often using their drug addictions or homelessness as leverage, prosecutors said. He is accused of supplying women with drugs and threatening to plunge them into withdrawal if they didn't cooperate.
Prosecutors said Stapleton advertised through BackPage, a now-defunct website shut down by the FBI in 2018.
Stapleton also pleaded guilty to engaging in a conspiracy, and using a facility for interstate commerce in aid of a racketeering enterprise.
Editor's note: The defendant's first name is Franshon, not Francis. The story has been updated to reflect the correct spelling.