Putnam and Thongsy found guilty of pimping teenagers
Stephen Putnam and Syla Thongsy walked into a Roseville courtroom Thursday afternoon free on bond, but exited in chains after a jury found both guilty of pimping and pandering teenage runaways from south Sacramento.
The verdict was the result of three weeks of trial testimony and nearly three days of deliberation.
During the proceedings, Placer County Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Macumber argued the Roseville couple took advantage of two troubled teenage girls —products of the California foster care system — and encouraged them to engage in prostitution in Sacramento and possibly Roseville. Putnam was convicted in 2008 of running a house of prostitution from his Wood Leaf Circle address in Roseville. Thongsy is an admitted “escort” who uses internet sites like MyRedBook.com to meet clients around Northern California. Both strongly denied doing anything but helping the teenage runaways, Terri and Angelica, by giving them food and shelter.
Defense attorneys Daniel Nicholson and Dionne Choyce tried to convince the jury that they had caught Terri and Angelica in “lie after lie” on the witness stand. To some extent, the jury may have partially agreed with that assessment: Two of the counts against Putnam involved communicating with a minor for the purposes of sex and committing a sex act with a minor with more than a 10-year age difference. Both of these charges were based on statements Angelica gave Roseville police and county District Attorney investigators.
Those two sex-related charges were the first verdicts Placer County Superior Judge Mark S. Curry read to a nearly full courtroom at 3:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon. The Placer County jury — comprising 10 men and two women — found Putnam not guilty of both charges. However, for Putnam, the good news stopped there. Jurors found him guilty of two felony charges of pimping a teenager and two felony chargers of pandering and procuring a teenager for sex work.
The jury found Putnam not guilty of three separate counts of criminal conspiracy. The Roseville drywall contractor sat stone-faced as the verdicts were read.
Curry turned his attention to the verdict findings for Thongsy. The jury found her guilty of two felony charges of pimping a teenager and two felony charges of pandering and procuring a teenager for sex work. The jury also found her guilty of transporting a minor for a lewd act. She was found not guilty of three counts of criminal conspiracy.
Macumber requested that both Putnam and Thongsy be remanded into custody at that moment. Nicholson and Choyce argued against the move.
“I’m requesting Mr. Putnam remain on his bond until sentencing,” Nicholson said. “It appears his conviction was as an aider and abettor, at least that’s what the jury was told. He’s had no serious incidents since then.”
Choyce pointed out his client’s infant should be considered.
“She’s just had a son, and the son is 5 months old,” Choyce told Curry. “We’d like to have some time to prepare for this.”
Macumber countered that Thongsy is currently on grand probation in Sacramento County for a weapons conviction and that Putnam had recently been in an altercation with one of his renters, plus his conviction signaled a violation of probation on his 2008 house of prostitution case.
“To say that they’ve stayed out of trouble since this case happened simply isn’t true,” Macumber observed.
Curry agreed and ordered both Putnam and Thongsy taken into custody in the courtroom.
Macumber told the Press Tribune she was pleased with the amount of charges the jury had found the defendants guilty on.
“I’m really just happy the jurors reached the right decision,” she said. “And it has to be said that this case was a huge team effort, and the conviction is mostly because of the hard work of the Roseville Police Department.”
Putnam and Thongsy will be sentenced in April.
Scott Thomas Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at ScottA_RsvPT