Benjamin Biancofiori doesn’t deny that he is a pimp.
In fact, Biancofiori told a federal jury Monday in his sex trafficking trial that he prostituted women for years through online classified sites such as Craigslist and Backpage, using the profits to fund a lavish, over-the-top lifestyle filled with designer clothes, fancy cars and drug-fueled parties.
The women who worked for him were headstrong, and he had a temper — a volatile mix that sometimes turned violent, Biancofiori testified. But he insisted he never forced any of his alleged victims to do anything that they didn’t want to do — and that he wasn’t the violent monster being portrayed by federal prosecutors.
“I can’t attempt to justify anything as far as domestic violence goes,” Biancofiori, his neck tattoo visible despite his collared shirt, testified in a low, quiet voice. “You are dealing with women who are fearless. … Violence was never the vehicle for any of this. Violence just happened along the way. But with or without violence, the same road was going to be traveled.”
Biancofiori, 33, of Naperville, is on trial on charges alleging he used death threats, vicious beatings and other abuse to force at least five women into sexual servitude dating back to 2009.
Biancofiori’s testimony came in stark contrast to the shocking stories of abuse told by four of his alleged victims over the past week. The fifth woman died in 2013 of causes unrelated to Biancofiori’s trial.
One woman testified Thursday that Biancofiori drove her to sex appointments, kept every cent she earned, plied her with heroin and controlled every aspect of her life.
One time he punched her so hard in the face she flew into a wall and wet her pants, the woman said. Then he made her clean it up and go back to work, she said.
On another night, she was exiting the shower when Biancofiori knocked her to the floor, stomped on her and beat her with a towel rack that fell off the wall.
According to the charges, Biancofiori relished the violence he inflicted, pummeling another woman while dressed up like a boxer and wearing mixed martial arts-type fingerless gloves with hard plastic knuckles.
At one point, he ordered another victim brought back to him at gunpoint after she tried to escape, the charges alleged.
Biancofiori, who has been jailed without bond since his arrest, faces up to life in prison if convicted.
He’s expected to face cross-examination from prosecutors Tuesday.
Biancofiori’s attorney, Andrea Gambino, has portrayed the accusers as untrustworthy drug addicts, some of who had criminal records or were already prostituting themselves before they met Biancofiori.
In his testimony on Monday, Biancofiori described how after he was released from a stint in prison in 2014, he planned on turning his life around.
In fact, he had written a book about the pimping lifestyle while behind bars and had hopes that it would be picked up and turned into a movie, Biancofiori testified.
Prosecutors have described the document as a thinly veiled autobiography that extolled the virtues of being a good pimp. Some of his descriptions mirrored exactly the abuse suffered by some of his victims, prosecutors said, including the beating he gave the woman who wet her pants.
But Biancofiori testified Monday it was a work of “fiction.” He said he embellished certain sections “to make a good story” and left out the softer, more sensitive moments that wouldn’t sell.
“I didn’t write about how heartbroken certain things made me,” Biancofiori said, including how he “cried for a week” after the women who had worked for him died.