Contra Costa County

Contra Costa County Prosecutor Strikes ‘Gentleman's Agreement' With Convicted Human Trafficker

It's an unusual bet between a prosecutor and a man he put in jail. It's like a "gentleman's agreement" that will decide who gets a bunch of seized cash and goods: the convicted felon or the county.

Prosecutors say James Joseph, who went by the nickname Spyder, wanted to keep all his luxury belongings, despite being sentenced to 174 years to life in prison for running a nationwide sex trafficking ring. Joseph's crimes are being the largest case of human trafficking in Contra Costa County history.

Authorities say Joseph in any given year was making between $1 million and $1.4 million gross income from his trafficking enterprise. A civil trial over the assets was set for this week, with Joseph serving as his own attorney. But instead prosecutor Aron DeFerrari and Joseph struck a deal -- a so-called gentleman's agreement.

The deal calls for Joseph to have his money back if he wins his appeal, gets his case dismissed and walks as a free man. The county would keep his assets if his appeal is rejected.

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