Firefighter Richard S. Benavente and suspected pimp Annette N. Basa entered not guilty pleas on Friday on charges that they engaged in sexual exploitation and sex trafficking of two female minors.
Benavente, 43, pleaded not guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of a child and two counts of attempted sexual exploitation of a child. Basa pleaded not guilty to two counts of sex trafficking of children.
Benavente and Basa appeared with their respective lawyers, Mark Hanson and Steven Pixley. Assistant U.S. attorney Rami Badawy appeared for the U.S. government.
U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona set the jury trial for Benavente on Oct. 21, 2013, and for Basa on Oct. 28, 2013.
When asked by Manglona if the parties had considered joining the trial, Badawy stated that they had not researched the issue and asked that the trial be set separately.
Hanson and Pixley agreed with Badawy.
Manglona remanded the defendants into the custody of the U.S. Marshal.
According to the indictment, Benavente had sex with the two girls and recorded the incident using a cell phone. This allegedly happened twice.
The indictment alleged that on April 1, 2013, Basa recruited and enticed the two minors to engage in “commercial sex act.”
A Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent alleged that Benavente took videos of himself having sex with the two 15-year-old girls. Basa allegedly offered the girls to the firefighter in exchange for methamphetamine or “ice” and an unspecified amount of money.