IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- A man was convicted Thursday of running a prostitution ring in eastern Iowa and forcing his girlfriends and sons to help manage the business.
Robert Sallis, 49, faces up to 25 years in prison for ongoing criminal conduct.
Prosecutors argued he was the mastermind behind Naughty by Nature, a prostitution business he ran in 2004 and 2005 from a Cosgrove apartment and later from a Williamsburg house.
Assistant Johnson County Attorney Anne Lahey said Sallis threatened and coerced two girlfriends into managing his prostitution enterprise, enlisting the help of his sons in recruiting prostitutes and deciding how it would run.
"He was the mastermind of this business," Lahey said in closing arguments Thursday morning. "He was basically the CEO."
Pat Ingram, Sallis' attorney, told the jury that prosecutors based their case on testimony from accomplices who would get deals for their help.
"If someone lied under oath once, they could do it again," Ingram said. "Not everyone who came up and raised their hand over here is someone you can put your faith in."
The jury began deliberation Thursday afternoon, following more than a day of testimony by Sallis' former girlfriends, prostitutes, investigators and customers. Deliberations took less than three hours.
Sallis was arrested last year as part of a larger state and federal investigation into Sallis' son, Demont Bowie of Wellman. Bowie, a convicted sex offender, was sentenced last fall to 35 years in prison for kidnapping a 13-year-old Minneapolis girl.
Bowie brought the girl to Sallis' Cosgrove home on Easter 2005, federal court records state. Sallis employed the girl in prostitution in northeast Iowa for three weeks. Sallis' girlfriend sent the girl back to Minneapolis after learning her age, federal court records state.
Information from: The Gazette, http://www.gazetteonline.com/