MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 29-year-old man will spend close to nine years in prison for prostituting a 17-year-old girl in a St. Paul apartment, the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office said.

Malachai Tramble, II, of Maplewood, received his sentence Thursday in Ramsey County District Court. He will serve his sentence at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Stillwater, Minn. He will also have to register as a sex offender for 10 years after he gets out of prison, the county attorney said.

John Choi, the county attorney, said Tramble plead guilty on March 16 to two counts of promotion of prostitution. One count (promotion of prostitution in the first degree) is in connection with the 17-year-old girl. The other count (promotion of prostitution the second degree) is in connection with an adult woman.

A criminal complaint shows that St. Paul police set up a sting operation after suspicions were raised that a girl was being prostituted at a Woodbury Red Roof Inn in April of 2011. Woodbury police gave St. Paul police the girl’s phone number, which was then entered into the search box on Backpage.com – a website the complaint described as “notorious for being used by prostitutes to advertise their services.” The search produced an ad for a girl named “Diamond”, who appeared to be the 17-year-old girl Woodbury police spoke with at the Red Roof Inn.

The following day (April 12, 2011), St. Paul police called the girl’s number and asked for Diamond. The complaint said an officer spoke with two different women who claimed to be Diamond. One of them, however, was the 17-year-old girl.

Police set up a sex-for-money deal and made their way to an apartment on the 1200 block of St. Anthony Avenue. An officer entered the apartment building with a monitoring device and met the 17-year-old girl, who introduced herself as Diamond.

She led the officer into a bedroom and the two laid out a deal. At that moment, backup officers rushed in.

While police were in the apartment, the apartment’s lessee, 23-year-old Tameka Richardson, knocked at the apartment door. Police brought her into the room and later arrested her for promoting prostitution of a minor. She pleaded guilty and is set to be sentenced on May 24.

In an interview with police, the 17-year-old girl said she met Tramble through a friend. Tramble then introduced the girl to Richardson. After spending some time with Tramble and Richardson, the girl told police she began living with Richardson in her St. Paul apartment.

It was while living with Richardson that the girl began getting calls from random men who had seen an ad of her on Backpage.com. When the girl asked Richardson about the calls, she said Richardson told her Tramble had posted an ad on the Internet, using photos he took from the girl’s phone.

The girl told police she felt “compelled” to prostitute.

Choi said the girl was not charged with prostitution; instead, she is being treated as a victim of sex trafficking.

In a press release, Choi had lashed out at Backpage.com.

“It is time that Backpage.com takes responsibility for their complicity in the trafficking of young girls,” he said. “By its acts and omissions, Backpage.com is encouraging, causing and contributing to illegal sex trafficking of children in our community.”


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