Sacto 9-1-1
March 22, 2013
Jury convicts Roseville couple on pimping, pandering charges

A Placer County jury has found a Roseville couple guilty of pimping and pandering two Sacramento runaways, the defense attorneys in the case confirmed Friday.

The jury acquitted the two defendants on several other related changes, including charges against Roseville contractor Steve Putnam that he communicated with a minor with sexual intent and committed a lewd act with a minor.

Putnam, 48, maintained that he was often in the company of escorts and prostitutes, but did not financially benefit from that relationship. His ex-girlfriend Syla Debra Thongsy, 24, told the jury through her attorney that she was prostituting herself, but wasn't pimping the minors.

Thongsy was Putnam's live-in girlfriend at the time. The two Sacramento runaways, 15 and 16 at the time, briefly lived in Putnam's six-bedroom Roseville home.

The jury found otherwise, returning guilty verdicts on two felony counts of pimping and two counts of pandering.

Sentencing has been scheduled for April 18. The convictions will result in prison time, said Putnam's attorney Daniel Nicholson.

Attorneys for the two defendants said they found it hard to understand how the jury convicted their clients on some charges, but found that Putnam was not guilty of illicit sexual contact with the minors and that both defendants were not guilty of four counts of conspiracy to pimp and pander..

"When I heard the first set of 'not guilty' verdicts I thought they would all be 'not guilty,' " said Nicholson.

Dionne Choyce, who represented Thongsy, said the jury's attempt to "split the baby" was inconsistent.

"It sounds to me like the jury was conflicted and this was a compromise verdict," Choyce said.

Nicholson said it hard to say how much Putnam's previous misdemeanor pimping conviction hurt his client. He said had the district attorney or the judge given the jury a misdemeanor option they would have taken it in this case.

The Placer County District Attorney's office did not return a call seeking comment.

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