Topeka man pleads guilty to operating interstate sex trafficking business

A Topeka man who owned a Lawrence nightclub has pleaded guilty to a federal sex trafficking charge, U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said.

Frank Boswell, 43, Topeka, Kan., pleaded guilty July 21 to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking by force, fraud or coercion.

In his plea, Boswell admitted he and co-defendants employed female commercial sex workers who served clients in Kansas and other states. Boswell used the Internet, cell phones, texting and social media to keep in touch with conspirators, track the movements of sex workers and advertise sexual services.

Boswell’s organization looked for women who needed money and a place to live wherever they found them — including homeless shelters — to recruit as commercial sex workers. They targeted single mothers and women with drug problems. The conspirators used drugs as well as the threat of violence to make the women compliant. The women turned the money they made over to Boswell and he paid for their rent, utilities and cell phones.

Boswell is a former player for Washburn University’s basketball team, and he owned a night club in Lawrence.

Sentencing is set for Oct. 23. Both parties have agreed to recommend a sentence of 51 to 63 months in federal prison.

Co-defendants include:
– Barry M. Johnson, who was sentenced to 46 months.
– Michaela Hekekia, who is awaiting sentencing.
– Shannon Nelson, who is awaiting sentencing.
– Sean P. Hall, who is awaiting sentencing.
– Rachel Flenniken, who is awaiting sentencing.

Beall commended the Topeka Police Department, Homeland Security Investigations, the FBI and Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Kenney for their work on the case.

Congressman sees need for better security


Opinion column

by Murrel Bland

U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder, R-3rd Dist., said he has received death threats on social media following the shooting of a fellow Congressman last month at a softball practice.

Rep. Yoder, who attended the monthly meeting of the Congressional Forum Friday, July 21, at Children’s Mercy Park, said that anonymous persons threatened him, with comments such as “Too bad you weren’t at the practice.”

U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise from Louisiana was attacked by a gunman the morning of June 14 during a practice for a benefit congressional softball game. There were security guards at the practice—but only because Rep. Scalise is the Majority Whip. The security guards are credited with saving lives.

Rep. Yoder said he expects Congress to consider this lack of security and to do something about it. He said he and Rep. Scalise are good friends.

Rep. Yoder also commented about health care legislation. He said that it will be important to pass legislation that will assure that premiums are affordable and will attract private-sector insurance companies. Many private-sector companies have left this market. Rep. Yoder voted for the U.S. House version health insurance that passed. Now it is up to the U.S. Senate to pass its version. The senators have rejected the House version.

Rep. Yoder said he continues to support more funding for Veterans’ Administration hospitals and also for the National Institute for Health that would advance research for the cure of Alzheimer’s disease. Rep. Yoder said he favors legislation that would change the quota system for “green cards” that affects foreign nationals. Because of a quota system, many highly qualified persons from foreign countries, such as China and India, have been denied immigration to the United States.

The U.S. House has passed 380 bills since the first of the year, Rep. Yoder said.

The Congressional Forum is a committee of the Kansas City, Kansas, Chamber of Commerce.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.

Candidate forums planned July 24 and 25

Candidate forums are planned from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. July 24 and 25 at the St. Andrew Missionary Baptist Church, 2200 N. 53rd St., Kansas City, Kansas.

According to Richard Mabion of the NAACP, candidates for the Board of Public Utilities, Kansas City Kansas College Board of Trustees and Kansas City, Kansas, Board of Education will be at the forum on Monday, July 24.

Candidates for Unified Government mayor-CEO, Wyandotte County Sheriff and UG Commission will be at the forum on Tuesday, July 25. The forums are open to the public.

The hosts of the forums on July 24 and 25 are the Baptist Ministers Union of Kansas City, Kansas, and the Kansas City, Kansas, NAACP. The primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 1.