GOLDEN, Colo. -
A leader of a Front Range sex-trafficking ring that prostituted underage teens and sold drugs was sentenced to four years in prison and five years probation on Thursday.
Chad Gow, 21, pleaded guilty in October to inducing child prostitution and pimping a child, both felonies.
Before he was sentenced, a tearful Gow told Jefferson County District Court Judge Tamara Russell that he was a changed man.
"My life has changed completely," the 21-year-old Gow said.
"I'm not the person that they're saying I am. I'm a person that makes mistakes, but the mistakes ain't the person that I am."
Gow said he got involved in the prostitution operation he ran with three other young men because, "I wanted to be cool."
But Gow's juvenile victims and prosecutors told another story.
"He forced us to stay on cocaine in order to manipulate us," one girl victim said of Gow in a telephone statement to the court. She said her life would be in danger if Gow were released.
The mother of a juvenile victim said their "life of a normal family has stopped."
An assistant state attorney general who prosecuted the case said Gow headed the sex trafficking ring.
"Gow has quite a history of harassment and assault," the prosecutor said. "He'll be a risk if let back into the community."
Prosecutors had sought a 10-year sentence and an order barring Gow from contacting his victims.
But a defense attorney said that victims who previously said they were afraid of Gow were now saying he was physically violent with them.
The judge sentenced Gow to four years in prison, followed by 5 years intensive supervised probation. The judge also granted Gow 372 days credit for the time he already served in jail.
Russell also ruled that Gow will have to register as a sex offender and ordered him to have no contact with victims.
Gow was among 14 individuals indicted by a state grand jury last January and accused of running and patronizing a human-trafficking ring that used children for sex at locations ranging from Denver to Grand Junction. Gow and three top members of the ring also sold methamphetamine and cocaine, according to the indictment.
At the time of the indictment, State Attorney General John Suthers said ring leaders orchestrated "out calls" for the child victims through the Internet and coerced their victims through the use of drugs and threats of violence.
Three other top members of the ring were sentenced to prison or jail in October.