SALEM — A judge yesterday refused to lower the bail for a Massachusetts man charged with inducing a 15-year-old runaway to become a prostitute.
Andy Pena, 19, of Jamaica Plain will continue to be held on $150,000 cash bail at the Rockingham County jail, according to Judge Robert Stephen.
Pena, dressed in a orange jail jumpsuit, remained silent as he appeared before Stephen in 10th Circuit Court.
He is charged with coercing the teen into prostitution and refusing to cooperate with authorities. She was reported missing by Boston police in November and recently traced to Salem.
Pena was arrested at La Quinta Inn & Suites on Keewaydin Drive on Feb. 3. Police found the 15-year-old girl there, along with another Boston area man, Steven Garcia, 28, who was apprehended.
She had been listed on the Internet as a female escort, police said. Partially nude photos of the girl were found online as well.
The girl, who claimed she was 19, admitted to police she had sex with five to six clients a day and gave all the money to Pena.
Pena is charged with endangering the welfare of a child, reckless conduct with a deadly weapon, witness tampering and interfering with custody. He had approximately $500 to $600 in cash when arrested. The girl said she earned the money as a prostitute over a two-day period, police said.
Police recovered a broken, loaded handgun, which they believed to belong to Pena. He was charged with witness tampering for telling the girl not to cooperate with authorities, police said.
Pena’s attorney, public defender Christine List, asked Stephen if her client’s bail could be reduced. She recommended he be held on personal recognizance.
“That’s a significant amount of money and Mr. Pena’s family isn’t able to afford that,” she said.
Pena’s mother and girlfriend sat in the courtroom and listened to the proceedings. Pena waived his probable cause hearing, meaning the case will now go to Superior Court, where he faces indictment by a grand jury.
List said Pena has ties to the Boston area and would not flee if released on bail. She also said he has not committed any major crimes in the past.
“He has a very limited, if any, record,” List said.
But prosecutor Jason Grosky said Pena should remain behind bars.
He said Pena was convicted of assault and battery in Massachusetts in 2012 and has violated his parole. List said her client had completed a program for “batterers.”
“Without being crude, he is accused of pimping a 15-year-old girl,” Grosky said. “I would suggest a substantial cash bail is needed.”
Boston police tracked the girl through Facebook, leading officers to La Quinta. U.S. Department of Homeland Security representatives participated in the investigation.
An undercover Homeland Security agent contacted the girl and arranged to meet her in the hotel room, a police affidavit said.
Stephen agreed that Pena should continue to have a high bail.
“The court is concerned greatly about the allegations,” he said. “I believe the court has a specific duty to protect children. I don’t feel the bail is unreasonable and will keep the bail where it is.”
During his arraignment last week, Stephen ordered Pena to stay away from all New Hampshire hotels and motels once he is released. He also is not allowed to have any contact with Garcia or anyone under 18, including the runaway, the judge said.
Garcia told police Pena served as the girl’s pimp and Pena paid him to drive the two around.