MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Mesa police have arrested a man for allegedly trafficking young girls for prostitution at hotel rooms around the Valley. Jason Vangundy, 37, was arrested on Oct. 8 at a Phoenix apartment complex.
Police say that back in May, officers were called to do a welfare check about multiple juveniles in a Mesa hotel room. One of those juveniles had been reported missing. When the missing girl was located, police learned the victim met Vangundy on a dating app, and had been staying with Vangundy at his apartment. The victim told police that three other runaway juveniles had also been staying at Vangundy's apartment.
Police say Vangundy bought cell phones for all four victims to "conduct sexual acts with unknown men for money." Detectives also say Vangundy provided food and shelter for the runaways and requested some of their money for compensation for the phones and shelter.
Detectives say the juvenile victim gave police a detailed account of being transported from the Vangundy's apartment to various hotels or other locations throughout the Valley to commit acts of prostitution. She says Vangundy paid for the hotel rooms.
A second juvenile victim was interviewed, and police say her account of what happened matched the story of the first victim. She also said she met Vangundy on a dating app and that he housed her and the others in his apartment.
Police say the victims felt pressured and "obligated" to commit acts of prostitution, after Vangundy made statements about how he was providing food, shelter and cell phones to the victims. Police say she also told them she performed sexual acts with Vangundy, and that he knew she was underage and “on the run” from a group home. She also said Vangundy would help them create online profiles, transport them to the locations, and would take half of all the money that came from acts of prostitution.
During a later interview, Vangundy acknowledged knowing and housing at least two of the juvenile victims, and admitted he had met them on a dating type website. The defendant also stated that he did pay for hotel rooms on at least two occasions, and transported the girls both to and from the hotels in his vehicle, police say.
But when asked about prostitution acts, police say Vangundy denied all involvement and knowledge of the activity, and also denied that an $80 payment from Cash App was from prostitution earnings. According to police, Vangundy also denied knowing that the victims were underage or that they had been listed as missing persons.
During the interview, police say Vangundy did admit to purchasing sex in the past but said he "would never be involved in something like this."
Vangundy now faces charges of child sex trafficking, child sex trafficking transportation, illegal control of an enterprise with minors and money laundering. Police are still searching for two other possible juvenile victims.