An Anchorage man convicted last year of multiple counts of sex trafficking was back in federal court this week, ordered to pay $3.6 million in restitution to 11 victims.
Prosecutors believe it is the largest amount of restitution in a sex trafficking case anywhere in the country.
Don Arthur Webster, also known as Jerry Starr, operated sham dating services that were fronts for prostitution, according to testimony at his trial.
But it's doubtful he'll ever pay the restitution because he doesn't appear to have any money, U.S. District Judge Russel Holland acknowledged in an April 1 written order, which preceded Wednesday's hearing.
Authorities are still investigating where all his money went.
Webster targeted girls and women who were at the margins -- homeless and uneducated, runaways and strippers -- and put them to work in "escort" services, including "Foxy Roxies," "Kotton Kandy," and "Tickle Your Fancy," according to testimony.
He virtually enslaved the women through "force, fear and drugs," Holland wrote.
While they may have gotten into the business voluntarily, he kept them under his control through beatings, choking, confinement in a closet and distributions of cocaine after "dates," the judge wrote.
A jury convicted Webster in February 2008 after 11 days of testimony, much of it from the women who had worked for him. The youngest testified she was 13 when she began performing commercial sex acts for Webster's businesses. Another was 17. The rest were adults. Victims testified about going on up to 10 "dates" a day, with almost no days off.
Webster is appealing the conviction and his lawyers argued at his trial that most of the women were already prostitutes and knew what they were getting into. They argued that he improved their lives by providing them with nice homes, a housekeeper and new clothes, and that he didn't force anyone to take drugs.
But the women testified about being intimidated by beatings or witnessing injuries to others. They testified they couldn't have visitors, buy anything without him knowing, or talk to other men without getting paid. They said they were addicted to crack, and he provided it.
In August, Webster was sentenced to 30 years in prison for sex trafficking and drug offenses.
After months of litigation on the matter, Holland imposed the restitution at a final sentencing hearing Wednesday.
The judge said the $3.6 million came from prosecutors' calculations based on evidence of the profits Webster made in trafficking the women for sex. The defense said it was much too high.
Under the federal sex trafficking law, which took effect in October 2000, restitution is mandatory, regardless of whether the defendant can pay.
If he does pay, the money will be distributed based on how much each woman or girl worked for him, under the order.
Find Lisa Demer online at adn.com/contact/ldemer or call 257-4390.