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Police: Clearwater man controlled finances, lives of residents

By staff
Published: January 21, 2014

A Clearwater man faces a variety of charges including human trafficking for controlling the finances and activities of several people he invited to stay in his home.

Jeffrey Keowin, 37, of 1412 N. Osceola Ave., is being held in the Pinellas County Jail on five counts of false imprisonment, two counts of sexual battery and the trafficking charge, according to Clearwater police. He was booked into the jail Jan. 13 after an investigation by the patrol and detective divisions. He is being held on $165,000 bond.

Keowin is accused of taking advantage of the victims, who are either underage or suffer from a mental disability, according to police. He met the victims in Indiana and then allowed them to stay with him in Clearwater.

Once at his residence, he controlled their monthly finances, which were government benefits in most cases, and did not allow them access to their money, police said. He also did not allow them to leave without his permission.

The victims had limited access to food and medical treatment for conditions such as diabetes or psychological conditions, according to police. They were not allowed to use a telephone outside his presence and were barred from contacting friends and relatives.

Keowin used verbal threats to enforce the rules of the house, and also slapped, punched and kicked the victims, police said. He also forced one victim into prostitution, in which he collected the proceeds, and tried to force two others to do the same.

The Clearwater police ask that anyone with information in this case to contact them at (727) 562-4242.