GREENEVILLE — A North Carolina woman has pleaded guilty in federal court to transporting three young women to Nashville last fall to be prostitutes.
Alexandra Nicole Berte, of Midway Park, N.C., was charged in a two-count indictment in U.S. District Court in Greeneville in October 2012. The charges include transporting individuals for prostitution and inducing travel to engage in prostitution.
Berte, who has been detained since her arrest, agreed to plead guilty to the transporting charge back in April and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 15. She faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
According to court records, Tennessee Highway Patrol officers stopped Berte for speeding on Interstate 40 in Cocke County in September 2012. Berte was traveling with three women, ages 18, 27 and 29, to Nashville to engage in prostitution.
Berte told the troopers the vehicle was a rental car, though the man the vehicle was leased to was not present in the vehicle and in fact, the rental was overdue. Troopers then ran Berte’s name through the FBI’s National Crime Information Center and discovered she was reported missing by the Wilmington, N.C., Police Department.
“Berte appeared extremely nervous (to the troopers) and could identify one passenger in her car ... and claimed she did not know the identities of the two passengers in the back seat,” court records state.
After noticing several other suspicious indicators, troopers gained consent to search the vehicle and found $400 in cash, 37 gift cards, a small quantity of marijuana and five cell phones with calls and text messages indicative of prostitution.
Berte claimed the gift cards were sent to her by her “baby daddy” as child support approved by a North Carolina court. Prosecutors said Berte has an extensive juvenile arrest record, including battery, assault, domestic violence, theft and drugs in Florida, North Carolina and New York.
Later in the day, THP investigators interviewed Berte and the 18-year-old girl and learned more about the prostitution scheme. Investigators said Berte persuaded the 18-year-old girl to come with her to “make some money,” driving from Lumberton, N.C., to Wilmington, N.C.
While in Wilmington, the girls stayed at two hotels, and over a three-day period, the 18-year-old provided sexual services to 34 men, charging them each between $120 to $200. Prosecutors said the 18-year-old asked Berte to take her home but that she refused and kept all of the money earned by the girls.
According to the plea agreement, Berte became a prostitute some time during 2011 and operated makeshift brothels in hotels in Wilmington and Winston-Salem, N.C., prior to the attempted trip to Nashville.