A former Lexington accountant has been sentenced to five years and 10 months in prison for his role in a sex-trafficking conspiracy that a federal judge called a horrific crime.
The sentence for Mark Milslagle also includes a $5,000 special assessment and a $22,000 fine, and he will be under court supervision for 15 years after he gets out of federal prison.
Milslagle, 51, took part in a scheme that victimized young women suffering from drug addiction, who took part in prostitution so they could continue receiving pain pills they needed in order to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms.
“It really is one of the most horrific crimes that I’ve witnessed,” U.S. District Judge Claria Horn Boom said Tuesday during the sentencing hearing for Milslagle.
The head of the conspiracy was Logan Ray Towery, a former Berea city council member who later lived in London and sold drugs.
Towery admitted he used drugs to lure and coerce women to have sex with him. He often threatened to withhold drugs so the women would take part in sex acts, according to his plea agreement.
He also gave women pills without charge in order to get them addicted, then provided them to his prostitution customers to work off the debt and keep getting drugs.
Towery told authorities Milslagle was his biggest customer. He delivered women to Milslagle at motels in London and Corbin.
Towery said Milslagle paid him $100 for each woman he provided and also paid for drugs for the women, according to an affidavit from Todd E. Tremaine, a special agent with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Croley said that after attending Oral Roberts University in Oklahoma, Milslagle and his wife moved to Lexington, where he worked as an accountant.
Milslagle and his wife had two children and he had his own business. He was involved in church and a center to help pregnant women with alternatives to abortion, and coached youth baseball and football, Croley said.
Addictions to alcohol and sex help explain why Milslagle took part in acts that wrecked that nice life, Croley said.
Croley asked Boom not to impose a fine on Milslagle, but the prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason D. Parman, argued for a fine of $15,000.
Parman said Milslagle was mostly a customer of Towery’s, but pointed out he also helped recruit women into the trafficking ring.
In one instance, Milslagle helped recruit a woman to take part in the ring after she was released from a drug-treatment center in 2018, according to his plea agreement.
Milslagle helped collect information on the woman while she was still in treatment, and when she got out, he paid for heroin and pain pills for her in return for her engaging in sexual acts with him and others.
Milslagle knew the woman “was addicted to controlled substances and would become physically ill and emotionally distressed if she did not obtain controlled substances,” his plea agreement said.
He also acknowledged that he knew or recklessly disregarded the fact that force, threats, fraud, and coercion would be used to cause someone to engage in a commercial sex act.
“Gravely serious conduct,” Parman said.
In an emotional statement, Milslagle apologized to his wife and family and acknowledged having had great advantages in life, but said his addictions to alcohol and sex “led me to utter ruin.”
Milslagle said he told himself during the time he was involved in human-trafficking scheme that he wasn’t hurting anyone, but that in reality he crushed his loved ones and fed the addiction of vulnerable women.
Mislalgle said he re-dedicated his life to God soon after he was arrested and has led Bible studies in jail and witnessed to inmates.
He quoted several Bible verses, including Romans 8:28, which in the King James Version says “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Milslagle said that described his situation — that God had used an awful experience for good in his life and the lives of others.
Boom said Milslagle’s remorse, his faith and his determination to turn his life around were obvious. And the judge said the decision by Milslagle’s wife and family to stand by him was an inspiring, remarkable portrait of forgiveness and reconciliation.
But Boom said she also wanted to remember the victims.
Milslagle helped prey on upwards of 20 women, Boom said — women who grew up poor and without support in many cases, who took part in prostitution out of desperation, who were so broken by what Milslagle, Towery and others did to them that they weren’t able to take part in the sentencing hearing.
“Their story should not get lost on any of us,” Boom said.
The advisory guidelines called for a sentence for Milslagle of at least 12 years and six months in prison, but concerns about not subjecting victims to the trauma of having to testify played a role in the agreement for a lower prison sentence.
In imposing a fine higher than the prosecutor requested, Boom said the amount was “more than reasonable” given the $1,000 or Milslagle spent some weeks during the conspiracy.
Towery was sentenced to 12 years and six months in prison.
Milslagle has been in jail since late 2019. That time will count toward his sentence.