A former Franklin County constable pleaded guilty Friday to one felony count of promoting prostitution and some misdemeanor charges.
Thomas S. Banta, 70, of Frankfort, was originally charged with one count of kidnapping a minor, three counts of impersonating a peace officer and one count of promoting prostitution, all felonies.
In addition to pleading guilty to one felony count of promoting prostitution, the felony charge of kidnapping a minor was reduced in Franklin County Circuit Court to one misdemeanor count of unlawful imprisonment. The three felony counts of impersonating a peace officer were reduced to three counts of misdemeanor criminal attempt to impersonate a police officer.
The prosecution suggested Banta be sentenced to three years in prison for promoting prostitution, one year for unlawful imprisonment and one year for attempting to impersonate a peace officer. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 3.
According to a previous State Journal report, Banta served as a Franklin County constable from 2011 to 2014. He also ran an unlicensed private investigation service at 940 Louisville Road, where he allegedly operated a prostitution ring.
A woman reported Banta to authorities in 2015. The woman, who would now be 41, said she met Banta when she was an eighth-grade cheerleader and he was a football coach. She had been working for him as a sex worker ever since, she told police.
In addition to providing sex for clients two days a week, the woman said she was required to give “Boss,” or Banta, sex for free anytime he wanted. Several other witnesses testified they had the same experience.
Court documents in the case said Banta would require the women working for him to sometimes participate in group sex and that sometimes sexual encounters were recorded.
While investigating the prostitution ring, authorties learned of a kidnapping incident involving co-defendant Hendra “Dre” Valentine and a 17-year-old male. A witness who worked for Banta’s private investigation and security service recalled seeing Banta and Valentine bring in the juvenile with his hands zip-tied behind his back.
Court documents described in previous State Journal reports say the juvenile was a suspect in a theft case that Banta’s private investigation business was investigating. The juvenile was under the impression that Banta and Valentine were police officers.
Valentine pleaded guilty to felony criminal facilitation to kidnapping a minor and four misdemeanor counts of facilitation to impersonating a peace officer in 2016.
Valentine’s case is still listed as active on the state Court of Justice website. The Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office said he did not have a court date scheduled as of Friday afternoon.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Zach Becker and Banta's attorney Guthrie True did not return requests for comment by press time.