This article was originally published on NBC News by Erik Ortiz on March 24, 2017.
A grand jury on Friday indicted an Atlanta man accused of holding eight women captive in a luxury Georgia home and threatening them with mutilation and murder.
Kenndric Roberts, 33, faces six counts of false imprisonment, six counts of trafficking a person for labor or servitude, two counts of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony and one count of criminal street activity.
The Fulton County District Attorney’s office, which confirmed the indictment, said Roberts could get up to 205 years in prison — essentially a life sentence — if found guilty.
Roberts’ arrest exposed what police and prosecutors allege is a disturbing case of human trafficking in the affluent suburban Atlanta community of Sandy Springs.
Police say Roberts used the website SeekingArrangement.com to lure young women to a nearly $1 million home he was renting with the promise of modeling jobs. Instead, Roberts made the eight women — ranging from 19 to 22 — work at nearby strip clubs and give him the money, according to authorities.
“Police also learned that the suspect was a Gangster Disciple’s gang member and required the women to receive gang-related tattoos as a sign of their loyalty,” the Fulton County District Attorney’s office said.
Police learned of the alleged scheme after one of the women called 911 on March 7 and said Roberts forced her to get plastic surgery and threatened to kill her if she left.
“I’m in a very bad situation, and I need to get out,” the 20-year-old woman told a dispatcher.
Detectives in court documents wrote that one woman “stated that Kendrick [sic] had threatened her on numerous times, one instance where he stated he was going to pay someone to cut her chest open, take out the implants and cut her up.”
Police said Roberts referred to the women as his “Diamond Kitties.”
Roberts had been held without bond in Fulton County Jail after his arrest. But during a court appearance on Thursday, Judge Jaslovelin Lall dismissed almost all of the charges, leaving it up to a grand jury to decide whether it the case is a criminal matter or a civil one involving a business arrangement “under some kind of duress or unconscionable issues.”
Roberts’ attorney, Mike Maloof Sr., told the court that his client was nothing more than a “poor man’s Hugh Hefner” and that the women weren’t forced to stay.
“If you felt threatened, why didn’t you leave on such and such a day,” Maloof later told reporters. “Why did you take $1,000 to go on a vacation? One of the women went on vacation with her mother. He gave them $1,000 to fly out West. That’s not somebody being held against their will.”
Maloof didn’t immediately return a request for comment Friday about the indictment.