Benjamin Biancofiori tried his hand at writing once.
He penned “a gritty tale of a pimp.” And he hoped to turn it into a movie, using “certain experiences that I embellished to make a good story.”
But what made it a work of fiction, he said, was the behind-the-scenes stuff he left out. Stuff that doesn’t sell. Like, “how heartbroken certain things made me.”
“Not everything you guys heard has been true,” Biancofiori told jurors from the witness stand Monday at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse.
Biancofiori, 38, of Naperville, testified as his trial on federal sex trafficking charges began to wind down. Prosecutors have called him a “violent pimp” who used money, drugs, mind games and vicious beatings to control young, vulnerable victims. He has pleaded not guilty but, on the stand, he acknowledged getting involved in “the oldest profession in history.”
He also said, “I was actually never the one who posted the ads” for women online. He called himself “not too computer savvy.”
Biancofiori told jurors that doctors, lawyers — “any profession that you can think of” — pay for escorts. “It could be your neighbor,” he said. “Not all of them, but some do.” He described a “lavish” lifestyle that involved “nice clothes, good high-grade marijuana, shoes, jewelry.”
And he insisted that, “everybody involved in this situation was there because they wanted to be. And both sides, me and them, knew what it involves. They knew the risks, the rewards, everything.”
Last week, a woman testified that Biancofiori forced her to work as a prostitute seven days a week, seeing eight or nine clients each day and earning between $1,250 and $2,000 every 24 hours. She said she never saw a dime of it.
Testifying Monday in a dark suit — and often drawing angry objections from prosecutors — Biancofiori said he and the woman had actually agreed she could keep half of the money she made. He denied she had been living in an abandoned building before he met her, and he said he did not support her heroin habit because “it opened the door for mayhem.”
But the woman also said she couldn’t remember how many times Biancofiori hit her or told others to do so. When asked about that by his attorney, Biancofiori turned to the jurors and said, “first off, ladies and gentlemen of the jury … it’s nothing that I’m proud of.” Then he insisted any physical altercations took place over “stealing and betraying the people who opened the door to her.”
Later, he acknowledged he has a tendency to “verbally fly off the handle.”
“I scream and I yell and a lot of people do,” Biancofiori said. “And sometimes I take things overboard with the stuff that I say. I don’t follow through on the majority of what I say.”
Prosecutors have said he once told a woman “I’m gonna show you what real killers do.”
Finally, Biancofiori said, “this whole lifestyle is very hard to break down for you guys on the jury in an hour or a day or a three-week trial. No lawyer or prosecutor or FBI agent can explain it to you.”
“It’s the tightest-knit marriage amplified by a thousand,” Biancofiori said. “You’re committing crimes together, essentially. We’re in love together. We’re taking risks daily.”
He insisted, “it’s not even 24 hours a day. It’s 25 hours a day, if that makes sense. It’s everything.”
Eventually he was cut off by U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber who said, “I think you’ve been going on.”