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Alleged Santa Rosa pimp charged with human trafficking

The man who allegedly ran a prostitution ring with his mother out of their Santa Rosa home for a decade was charged with human trafficking of a minor Tuesday in Sonoma County Superior Court.

An investigation headed by the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety found that David Scott Romesburg III, 38, and his mother, Fay Ruth Romesburg, 59, allegedly pimped about 150 women over the course of 10 years, said Sgt. Jeff Justice. One woman was allegedly recruited into their prostitution ring while she was still a minor.

The Romesburgs were also set to open a “gaming and karaoke studio” named Black Cat in the coming weeks at a shopping center on Southwest Boulevard at Adrian Drive in Rohnert Park, Justice said. Patrons would have allegedly been paired with women in private karaoke rooms had the business opened.

The gaming element of the business was not slated to be poker or blackjack, but was fantasy role playing, Justice said. Posters at the business advertised a “Magic: The Gathering” card tournament.

Rohnert Park police received a tip from a property manager in late 2017 that the Romesburgs had set up a brothel in an apartment on the 4000 block of Snyder Lane, Justice said. David Scott Romesburg III had signed a six-month lease for the apartment in August.

Rohnert Park detectives found Santa Rosa police also had received complaints about the mother and son pimping women out of their home on the 2300 block of Alvarado Avenue near Doyle Community Park, Justice said.

The Romesburgs ran another brothel in an apartment at the Mountainview Villas near the Santa Rosa Marketplace, he said. It’s unclear if the family operated brothels out of other apartments.

Fay Ruth Romesburg was charged with pimping and pandering in court Tuesday and was held at the Sonoma County Jail on $245,000 bail.

In addition to the human trafficking charge, David Scott Romesburg III was charged with pimping, pandering and five counts of money laundering. He was held on a $250,000 bail.

Criminal protective orders were issued for five women cooperating with the investigation who were allegedly pimped by the mother and son, Chief Deputy District Attorney Brian Staebell said.

Some of the women, whose ages range from 18 to 50 years old, claim they were abused by the son, Justice said. One woman claimed she was sexually assaulted by David Scott Romesburg III during her job interview, another said he would not let her leave the brothel until she paid off a debt to him.

The five women have been connected with support services for victims of human trafficking, he said.

David Scott Romesburg III has two prior convictions in Sonoma County. In 2005 he was sentenced to four years in state prison for having sex with a minor age 16 or under, according to court records. In 2001, he was convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor after statutory rape charges were dismissed.

He also has been convicted of arson and burglary in Napa County. Fay Ruth Romesburg has no prior convictions in Sonoma County.

The mother and son were arrested at their Santa Rosa home Jan. 26 during an undercover operation that also targeted the alleged Rohnert Park brothel and the Black Cat studio.