Ashley Michael Stella of Reno, Nevada, admitted in federal court on Thursday that she brought a minor girl to Billings for commercial sex activity.
Stella, 28 years old, pleaded guilty to charges that she transported a minor to engage in prostitution, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Federal prosecutors allege that on April 21, 2021, law enforcement officers responded to a call of possible commercial sex activity at a Billings motel and knocked on the door of the suspect room.
Stella, another individual, and a 16-year-old girl from Nevada emerged.
The girl, whose name was not released, indicated in interviews that she had met Stella in December 2020 and Stella had informed her that she worked in commercial sex.
The girl told law enforcement that she and Stella traveled to Montana in April from Nevada and that both had engaged in commercial sex.
Stella told law enforcement she had met the girl in the fall of 2020 and learned her true age later that year.
Stella also told investigators that the two had traveled from Nevada to Montana for the purpose of commercial sex and that she had asked the girl if she wanted to go on the trip.
Stella faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years to life in prison, a $250,000 fine and five years to life of supervised release.
U.S. District Judge Susan Watters scheduled a sentencing hearing on April 14, 2022. Stella was detained pending further proceedings.
The case was investigated by the Montana Department of Justice’s Criminal Investigation Division, the FBI, and the Billings Police Department.