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Trial opens for alleged Hawthorne pimp charged with running teen prostitution ring

9/5/2011, 5 p.m.

LOS ANGELES, Calif.--An accused Hawthorne pimp who calls himself "Snipe King" had his street name tattooed across the chest of a teenage runaway he allegedly forced to work for him, a prosecutor said today, but the defense countered that no evidence supported kidnapping and other charges.

Leroy Bragg, 35, is charged with human trafficking of a minor, soliciting and pandering of a minor, burglary, kidnapping and lewd acts on a child. He is accused of forcing two runaway teenage girls to work for him as prostitutes in the streets and motels of Los Angeles and Orange County.

One of the girls, a then-14-year-old from Upland, was snatched off the streets of South Los Angeles by Bragg and taken to his apartment, Deputy District Attorney Marcia Daniel alleged during opening arguments.

After a period of "drinking, smoking dope and hanging out with all the girls," the teenager had sex with Bragg and soon found herself "working on the streets," the prosecutor said.

During her work shift, Daniel said, Bragg would be "watching ... keeping track," ensuring he was "getting the money."

But defense attorney Daniel Milchiker told the jury that his client has been charged with "crimes he did not commit."

"Not a single piece of physical evidence was collected" to corroborate the girls' allegations against Bragg, Milchiker said.

Police "never scrutinized the story of a girl who repeatedly professed her ability to control the situation," the defense attorney said.

Daniel said Bragg had the phrase "King Snipe's B***h" tattooed over the right breast of one of the girls.

Bragg was arrested Sept. 28, 2010, after a foot chase through backyards near his Hawthorne apartment.

He was being held on $1.3 million bail. As a "third-striker," he faces up to life in prison if convicted, according to the District Attorney's Office.

By Fred Shuster | City News Service