Fresno pimp creates stir before getting guilty verdict

FRESNO, Calif.

Maurice Hunt was charged with sex trafficking in federal court and acted as his own attorney. Hunt cursed at the judge Thursday and the case was halted early.

It got worse Friday. Marshals say Hunt tore off his clothing, went completely limp, and forced them to use a wheelchair to get him into court wearing almost nothing. Maurice Hunt has made a living by recruiting women and girls to work for him, then sending them scantily clad out on the streets to turn tricks.

On Friday, he was the one wearing very little.

"He appeared in court in his underwear in a wheelchair," said federal prosecutor Elana Landau. "He was adequately covered and then they had a white, button-up dress shirt that they tried to cover him with."

The bare-chested Hunt refused to acknowledge the judge, but tried to talk as soon as jurors arrived, telling them the court proceedings was unfair and that he wasn't allowed to tell them the truth. Marshals removed him from court and since he was acting as his own attorney and refused opportunities to come back and behave, he couldn't give closing arguments.

In opening statements Tuesday, hunt told the jury he's just a ladies' man, not a sex trafficker as charged. But a Fresno teen testified that when she was 13, he was trafficking her. She said Hunt mainly had her working along Belmont in Fresno, but he also took her to work at a hotel in Bakersfield.

Landau says travel along Highway 99 and beyond is common practice in the prostitution game.

"These pimps are trafficking girls up and down the state of California," she said. "It's not unusual at all for them to recruit them here in Fresno and take them to Bakersfield, take them to the Bay Area, keep them active, keep the money coming in," she said.

It took the jury less than an hour to reach a guilty verdict against Hunt. Landau is hoping the case will serve as a warning to pimps, showing them the punishment for their crime can be very stiff.

Hunt is due to be sentenced in October. He faces life in prison with as many as 85 years before his first parole hearing. If he was convicted of pimping in state court, the maximum sentence would've been six years.

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