Clearwater man accused of human trafficking underage teen

By Josh Rojas, Reporter
Last Updated: Friday, July 14, 2017, 7:50 PM EDT

Clearwater police arrested Giovanni Pergamo, 20, on a human trafficking charge on Monday, after a 17-year-old runaway said she was being held against her will and forced to perform sex acts in exchange for drugs, according to an affidavit.

  • Victim said she and another victim met Pergamo on July 4
  • On July 5 Pergamo reportedly took victims' cell phones
  • Ordeal ended after victims held for 5 days

The victim told detectives that she and another underage runaway met Pergamo on July 4 through a mutual friend and they were supposed to watch fireworks, but instead were provided narcotics. The 17-year-old engaged in sexual activity with Pergamo and his friend that night, according to a search warrant.

The victim stated in the following days, they stayed with Pergamo and engaged in sexual activity with individuals who provided him with narcotics. According to the report, if the individual provided a sufficiently large amount of narcotics, the victim would be provided some.

The teen said Pergamo kept marijuana, pills and MDMA in a white Mickey Mouse bag.

On July 5, the teen said Pergamo took both of their cell phones and removed the SIM cards to prevent law enforcement from being able to locate them. According to a police report, the victims began trying to go home that same day, but Pergamo would not allow them to leave his presence.

Pergamo also moved them between a home in Dunedin and another in Clearwater. Both teens told detectives they were battered and scared of Pergamo because of his frequent manic state.

The nightmare ends   

According to the warrant, the five day nightmare came to an end when a Clearwater police officer pulled over a car for inoperable taillights and an expired tag that Pergamo was a passenger in. The officer observed Pergamo drinking from an open can of Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

Pergamo then spontaneously admitted that he was under 21. The 17-year-old victim, meanwhile, was in the car's backseat. The officer asked both of them to exit the car after seeing furtive movements.

That’s when the victim reportedly told the officer that she and another runaway were being held against their will and Pergamo was not providing sufficient food.

Police said when they found the second underage runaway at Pergamo’s Dunedin condo, the girl claimed she was not a human trafficking victim.

According to the search warrant, detectives found both of the runaways cell phones in Pergamo’s car. Another resident of the condo complex told us they had seen at least four or five teenage girls coming and going from Pergamo’s condo since they moved in one month ago.

"A model citizen"

Glynn Long, Pergamo's father's neighbor, said he has known Pergamo since he was a child and doesn’t believe the human trafficking allegation.

“He’s been a model citizen. Never got into any trouble that I know of,” said Long. “Has always been polite, nice guy.”

On Friday, a judge asked Pergamo how it was going, and if he was hiring an attorney.

“It’s going good,” said Pergamo. “I talked to my attorney yesterday.”

Pergamo’s being held in the Pinellas Jail on a $100,000 bond. Clearwater Police said the case is still open and they’re interviewing witnesses.