What started as a sex trafficking investigation ultimately cost a Billings man his longtime job with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and six months of federal probation after he paid a teenage girl for sex at his office.
U.S. District Judge Susan Watters on Friday sentenced Bigwind Windy Boy, 41, to the probationary term, along with 50 hours of community service, for his conviction on using an interstate facility in aid or racketeering, that is, using a cellphone to promote prostitution.
Windy Boy pleaded guilty in September to the crime in which he admitted responding through text messages to an online ad. He paid a 17-year old girl $100 for oral sex on Oct. 26, 2017 at the federal building where he worked for the BIA, prosecutors said. He also texted the girl several days later that he was interested in another date.
The ad said, “The Best You Ever Had, Miss Marilyn!! OUTCALLS-23” and showed photographs of a female who listed her age as 23, court records said.
Windy Boy’s sentencing came the same week in which a federal jury in Billings convicted a Missoula man of forcing women into prostitution through ads posted online.
Although the cases are separate, Watters noted the influence of classified advertising websites in sex trafficking and that if people were not willing to pay for sex, there would be no demand or suppliers.
Watters called Windy Boy’s sentencing a “tough case.” Windy Boy had no criminal history, lost his $72,000-a-year job that he had for 14 years, suffered public humiliation and has family issues, including caring for a disabled mother.
But, she continued, some level of “official punishment” was necessary because of the role the crime played in sex trafficking.
Watters asked Windy Boy why he did it.
Windy Boy responded that he was under a lot of family-related stress at the time and was not thinking. He also said it was the first time he had done anything like that.
But Watters told Windy Boy that he had contacted the prostitute for a second “date” and that she was a minor girl.
Windy Boy called it an “infatuation” and said the girl told him she was 23.
The judge also questioned the prosecutor why the case went into federal court rather state court, when the man who apparently had paid for the online ad for the prostitute was charged in state court.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Godfrey said Windy Boy's crime occurred in a federal building.
“I get that,” Watters said and noted the U.S. Attorney’s Office has prosecutorial discretion.
Godfrey said that in addition to a federal building being involved, federal agents investigated the case and the U.S. Attorney’s Office decided to prosecute.
Windy Boy faced a guideline range of zero to six months in prison.
Godfrey recommended three years of probation.
Assistant Federal Defender Dave Merchant said Windy Boy already has been punished and recommended a sentence of time served of one day in jail with no probation.
Merchant said Windy Boy, who supported his family, had lost his job and had drained his retirement account, and had suffered personal and public humiliation and embarrassment. Windy Boy also had lost 80 pounds because of the stress, he added.
“In simple terms, he ruined his life,” Merchant said in his sentencing memo.
Windy Boy’s “moral transgression was discovered by happenstance,” Merchant said.
Law enforcement agents had contacted the prostitute who had advertised on the website, set up a “date” and arrested her when she met them, Merchant said.
At the time, the prostitute was a 17-year-old girl who had recently dropped out of a Billings high school and admitted to creating the online ad, Merchant said.
Law enforcement promised the girl she would not be prosecuted if she told them about the man who gave her the money to post the ad and all of the people who responded to her ad, Merchant continued.
Officers drove the girl around Billings while questioning her, and as they passed the federal building on Fourth Avenue North, where the BIA is located, the girl identified it as where she went on one of her “dates,” Merchant said.
The girl told investigators about meeting a man there once, where he paid her $100 for oral sex, and that he had texted her days later regarding a second “date,” he said. The investigation led to Windy Boy.