El Joshua

El Joshua, 36, appears Tuesday morning before Judge Patricia Wild in Atlantic County Superior Court.

MAYS LANDING — A human trafficking charge typically carries 20 years to life in prison.

Prosecutors on Tuesday rejected a plea deal from a Mays Landing man indicted on five trafficking counts in which he would only serve three years in prison.

El Joshua, 36, who is accused of holding at least two women captive and forcing them into prostitution, stared forward Tuesday morning as the state rejected the offer from his attorney.

Joshua, who pleaded not guilty in June to a nine-count indictment, including five counts of human trafficking, was silent after telling Judge Patricia Wild “good morning” when he appeared before her in Atlantic County Superior Court for a hearing that lasted less than 2½ minutes.

At a court appearance last month, Kate Weigel, Joshua’s defense attorney, countered the state’s last plea offer with three years in state prison on third-degree criminal restraint and fourth-degree possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and imitation, court records show.

Chief Assistant Prosecutor Danielle S. Buckley rejected that offer Tuesday morning.

Prosecutors allege Joshua held the women captive and forced them into prostitution and domestic servitude through violence, threats, coercion and by providing them with heroin.

According to the affidavit, Joshua held the women in a Pearce Road home in Hamilton Township, where they had to ask permission to use the bathroom and endured threats Joshua made using an airsoft gun.

Joshua arranged “dates” for them at Atlantic City casinos and along Atlantic Avenue, forcing them to have sex with customers in exchange for heroin, court documents show.

On Dec. 19, one of the women escaped through a window while fending off an attack from Joshua and told Hamilton Township police she was being held against her will.

In addition to the five human trafficking counts, Joshua was indicted on charges of criminal restraint, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose (imitation) and terroristic threats.

Also during the hearing, the attorneys spoke about the exchange of evidence in the case, which is still not complete.

Weigel asked for a four-week postponement so Joshua could review video evidence in the case, which Wild granted.

Joshua was remanded to the Atlantic County jail. His next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 10.

Contact: 609-272-7241 mbilinski@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressMollyB

Staff Writer

My beat is public safety, following police and crime. I started in January 2018 here at the Press covering Egg Harbor and Galloway townships. Before that, I worked at the Reading Eagle in Reading, Pa., covering crime and writing obituaries.

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