YouTube pimp’s act to play out in court
Ann Arbor — The double life of a self-professed pimp who chronicled his sexploits in a homemade reality show will be on display in federal court this year.
Detroiter Donald Clifton Allen Jr., known on the streets as “D’Nero Armani,” is scheduled to stand trial in December in a case that will feature video clips of his YouTube reality show “D’Nero’s Player Show” and explicit movies, including one of an underage prostitute.
The FBI and federal prosecutors have hundreds of hours of video seized from digital cameras and computers, evidence at the center of a case chronicling the convergence of alleged criminal activity and social media.
On YouTube, Allen is a big-time player offering advice on “pimpin.” In several flicks, he is surrounded by women giving him backrubs and pedicures or riding shotgun in a jacuzzi.
In reality, the reality show is misleading. Allen is a 50-year-old, four-time felon, a minor-league player so broke that his “girls” turn tricks in the backroom of a buddy’s Bloomfield Township apartment and on the streets of southwest Detroit, and so violent he once allegedly poured chemicals under a locked door of a bathroom where a prostitute hid and threatened to light it on fire, according to court records.
“Now a pimp can get some breakfast,” Allen said, after picking up a prostitute outside a motel, and pocketing the cash, according to court records.
Allen, who is being held in a federal prison in Milan, is scheduled to stand trial Dec. 8 on charges including possession of child pornography, sexually exploiting children and sex trafficking. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in federal prison.
Though investigators seized hundreds of hours of video, a key part of the case involves only one, 20-minute movie featuring one girl, Allen’s defense lawyer, S. Allen Early, told The Detroit News.
The alleged victim was two months from turning 18 years old, Early said.
“It’s just one video of a lady dancing nude,” Early said. “This is not a case where there is alleged to be hundreds of pictures of nude sexual acts.
“And she had a Michigan driver’s license that said she was 18,” Early added.
That license, though, was destroyed by Troy police last year, a fact that Early says justifies dismissing some of the charges.
Besides, Allen did not force the alleged victims into prostitution, Early said.
“If the allegations are true, it’s terrible,” the lawyer said. “She’s under 18, that’s still a crime, but she certainly was a willing participant.”
These days, Allen’s harem is long gone. At least the type he’s used to.
Allen appeared in federal court in Ann Arbor Sept. 17 for a routine hearing, his skin an ashen gray after three years behind bars awaiting trial.
The rows of benches inside U.S. District Judge John Corbett O’Meara’s courtroom were almost empty. No family, no friends, no women.
Case begins with traffic stop
The criminal case emerged in June 2009 in Troy.
Officers stopped a Buick along Big Beaver Road, suspecting the driver was drunk.
During the traffic stop, driver Yun Chong Hindy acted nervously and kept looking at a man and 17-year-old girl in the backseat.
Under questioning, Hindy said the man “did bad things with young girls” in her Bloomfield Township apartment. That man was Allen, according to court records.
During the previous two weeks, Hindy said a parade of men visited her apartment and Allen would leave the 17-year-old girl alone with the visitors in a back room.
Allen allegedly told Hindy that he advertised a prostitution business in a Detroit alternative weekly tabloid, according to court records.
When Troy police searched Hindy’s apartment, they seized a video recorder and four laptops allegedly belonging to Allen.
After pushing “play,” investigators found a video, allegedly shot by Allen, of a 17-year-old girl dancing, stripping and posing in sexually explicit positions.
Allen allegedly filmed himself talking on the phone with the girl’s mother, who confirmed that she was underage, according to court records.
The footage is considered child pornography because the girl was under 18.
The footage kickstarted an investigation by the FBI’s Southeast Michigan Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Agents questioned the underage prostitute, nicknamed Loni. In spring 2009, Loni said she started prostituting for Allen, focusing on stretches of Michigan and Central avenues in Detroit, along with dates at hotels, according to the FBI.
In August 2009, two days before Loni turned 18, Allen drove her and another underage prostitute to Cleveland, according to a search warrant affidavit obtained by The News. But police found the girls at a rowdy house party and called the girls’ parents.
The FBI spent three years investigating Allen and trying to find and identify potential victims. One alleged victim said Allen set the prostitutes’ rates, which ranged from $100 to $150.
During the investigation, Hindy, a key witness, died in 2010, months after the traffic stop.
As the investigation continued, Allen cycled through jails and courthouses in Oakland County and Georgia following convictions in 2011 and 2012 for child endangerment and fleeing and eluding a police officer, among other crimes.
During a stretch in the Oakland County Jail, inmate Allen turned entrepreneur, according to federal prosecutors.
“He attempted to establish a ‘phone-sex’ business with women outside of the jail where other inmates could call and listen to obscene conversation in exchange for money or other payment to Allen,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John O’Brien wrote in a court filing. “Evidence of this activity was obtained from Allen’s recorded phone calls from the Oakland County Jail.”
Investigators uncover videos
In May 2012, the grand jury indicted Allen after investigators uncovered videos of several prostitutes, according to court records.
The next month, in June 2012, agents interviewed another prostitute identified in court records as “Robyn.”
She said Allen recruited her to work as a prostitute and that he placed escort ads in a local tabloid. He also drove her to Atlanta to work as a prostitute, according to court records.
Armed with a search warrant, agents recovered Allen’s camcorder at a Clinton Township pawn shop. Videos found on the camcorder allegedly showed Allen and some of his prostitutes engaged in sex acts and using drugs, the FBI alleged.
Allen also saved self-recorded lectures of him talking about how to be a pimp and “handle” prostitutes, according to court records.
In all, the indictment alleges Allen was involved in sex trafficking of three people, including two minors.
FBI agents didn’t need a warrant to see Allen’s lifestyle in action.
Allen portrayed himself as a successful player in at least 62 YouTube videos under the banner “D’Nero’s Player Show.” The channel’s slogan: “The REAL True Life of a REAL True Player from Detroit, Michigan. Travel, Smoke, Listen to good music, and vibe on interesting topics.”
Allen’s channel has its own reality show trailer, featuring scantily clad women and Allen’s face cut-and-pasted into the back of a stretch limousine.
The most popular video on Allen’s YouTube channel, featuring slow-motion footage of a woman in booty shorts twerking for three minutes, snagged more than 146,810 views — and nine dislikes.
His Facebook page, with the slogan “It’s Always a Treat, when Players Meet,” was less popular, “liked” by only 49 people.