A Janesville woman who recruited women for a prostitution ring was sentenced Thursday in federal court to three years in prison for conspiring to commit sex trafficking.

Tonyiel L. Partee, 29, faced a sentence of more than 13 years in prison under advisory sentencing guidelines for the offense. However, being a victim and a victimizer in the commercial sex trade mitigated the severity of her sentence, District Judge William Conley said.

The judge recounted Partee’s past, saying that after a short stint in college, Partee returned to Janesville where, at 19 years of age, she met Corey D. Hereford, 49 of Beloit. Partee had a child with Hereford, knowing he sold drugs and exchanged drugs for sexual services. He then had her perform massages for clients which escalated into prostitution for him.

“She fell into his web,” the judge said.

Partee used marijuana to cope with the depression she felt working as a prostitute. She then began recruiting women to replace her as Hereford’s sex workers, according to the judge.

Partee was willing to recruit as many women as needed to remove herself from prostitution, although the number of recruits was difficult to determine.

While working as a prostitute on a rainy day, Partee offered a ride to young woman and took her to Hereford. Although the woman, referred to by the initials, S.P., had not been a regular drug user, Hereford “plied her with cocaine and heroin,” and then had her work as a prostitute to pay for the drugs, Conley said.

Partee also used Facebook to send Herford a message in July 2017 stating, she “put on some girls to help with money,” and in August 2017 wrote that she “got this mixed one lined up right now,” according to a brief filed in court by the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Partee witnessed Hereford coercing women by force, threatening and withholding heroin in order to make them work as prostitutes, Conley said.

Partee was first charged in Rock County but the sex trafficking case was transferred to federal court.

On Thursday, she apologized to the victims and their families for the hurt she caused them and said she wanted to rebuild her life with her four children.

During the 15 months she has been in jail she said she lost her job and home. She said she was troubled by losing friends who either drowned in the Rock River, been murder victims or froze to death outdoors during the winter.

Partee told Conley that she was taking online courses and, before being incarcerated, had obtained a forklift driver’s certificate. She was trying to obtain any counseling she could and was counseling other women to learn from her mistakes.

Conley called Partee’s statement “obviously emotional and beautiful,” but cautioned her against advising others until she is more stable. He mentioned that Partee’s pretrial release was revoked when she associated with people and visited places that were prohibited.

In addition to handing down a three-year prison sentence, Conley sentenced Partee to five years of supervised release.

The judge set a Dec. 9 restitution hearing for costs associated with any counseling the “principal victim” in the case may need.

Hereford has been charged with multiple sex trafficking offenses and his trial is set for December in Madison.

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