Tag Archives: prostitution

Flushing husband and wife charged with sex trafficking in Nassau County

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of the Nassau County District Attorney's office

A couple from Flushing found themselves in handcuffs after they were arrested for forcing two women to perform sexual acts on customers at massage parlors they owned in Nassau County.

Zhaowei Yin, 49, and his wife Shuwen Ai, 46, were arrested Thursday morning by Nassau County district attorney investigators and later arraigned on charges including sex trafficking, promoting prostitution, labor trafficking, and unauthorized practice under New York State Education Law.

According to Acting Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, between May 2013 and the end of January 2014, the husband and wife duo hired two women responding to ads in Chines newspapers under the pretense that they would be performing massages.

However, they were then required to perform sexual services on male customers at two locations: Lucy’s Space at 300 Hempstead Turnpike in West Hempstead and Panda Foot Spa at 400 Franklin Ave. in Franklin Square. Both parlors are now closed.

During the investigation, it was discovered that the women would often be forced to sleep at the businesses. Yin and Ai never paid one of the victims for the time she worked at the parlor, and deducted wages from the other victim for occasional transportation home after work and for sleeping at the site, even if she was forced to stay there.

The couple allegedly also threatened one of the victims that if she failed to follow their demands, they would then post a naked photo of her on the Internet and in newspapers. They also threatened the victim, who is undocumented, that if she reported them to the police she would be deported, according to prosecutors.

In one case when one of the victims was allegedly subjected to physical violence from a customer, Yin and Ai forced her to continue to perform whatever services the customer asked for.

Both victims were arrested and charged during undercover operations by the Nassau County Police Department and later their cases were handled by the Human Trafficking Intervention Part of the Nassau County District Court.

After further investigation, it was found that the women had been forced to perform sexual acts and had become victims of sex and labor trafficking. This led to the charges against the victims to be dropped and the investigation into Yin and Ai began.

“Trafficked individuals like the women in this case are the victims of a modern-day form of slavery happening all around us in communities across the country,” Singas said. “This is what slavery looks like in 2015. Thanks to the hard work of prosecutors, DA investigators, and the Nassau County Police, we were able to identify, indict, and arrest suspected human traffickers right in our own backyard. We will continue to use every investigative tool and partnership available to us to find human traffickers and hold them accountable.”

Bail for the couple was set at $250,000 cash or bond and they are due back in court on Oct. 15. Yin and Ai face a maximum of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison if convicted of the highest charge.


More Maspeth massage parlor employees busted for prostitution

| agiudice@ridgewoodtimes.com

Photo by Anthony Giudice

Three Maspeth massage parlor workers wound up in handcuffs last week for rubbing patrons the wrong way, according to police.

Law enforcement sources said the suspects were cuffed on April 1 at a massage parlor located at 66-47 Grand Ave., which cops raided in a prior bust back in March.

According to the criminal complaint, Hiu Yi Tsang, 29, of Flushing, allegedly offered and agreed to engage in a sexual act for $40 and perform a massage for $60 on an undercover detective.

It was also noted in the report that Tsang is allegedly not licensed, registered, nor holds a limited permit to practice massage therapy in New York State.

Sunyu Ping, 46, of Maspeth, is alleged in the report to have offered and performed a full body massage, which she was not licensed for, on the undercover detective for $40. It is further reported that Ping then offered and agreed to engage in oral sex with the detective for the sum of $60.

Finally, police said that Lina Li, 33, of Maspeth allegedly offered and agreed to engage in sexual intercourse with the undercover detective, and then agreed to perform a full body massage on the detective, for a total of $300.

All three suspects were charged with prostitution and unauthorized use of a professional title.

Tsang and Ping were arraigned in front of Judge Bruna Dibiase, while Li was arraigned in front of Judge David Hawkins; they were each released without bail. Both Ping and Tsang are due back in court on April 24, while Li’s next court date is May 1.



Pair accused of holding Queens teen prisoner, forcing to work as prostitute

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Two men have been indicted after they held a 15-year-old Queens girl against her will and forced her to work as a prostitute, District Attorney Richard Brown said.

The teen met the men, Terron Morancis, 29, and Quindell Hill, 33, in St. Albans on May 13, from which point they held her against her will until she was able to escape a week later, according to Brown.

During the girl’s imprisonment, they threatened her, ordering her to have sex with men in Queens and Brooklyn for money, and give them everything she made, the district attorney said. Morancis allegedly took “racy” photos of the 15-year-old and posted them on a website advertising her as a prostitute.

Morancis is also accused of making her perform oral sex on him, Brown said.

The victim was finally able to get away from the men for a brief moment and call her mother, who contacted police.

Morancis, of St. Albans, and Hill, of Brooklyn, were arraigned Wednesday on a 19-count indictment, charging each of them with kidnapping, promoting prostitution, sex trafficking and other crimes, prosecutors said. Morancis is also charged with criminal sex act and failure to register or verify as a sex offender.

They both face up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.


Teen runaway rescued after forced into prostitution in Queens

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

A 14-year-old runway was kept inside a Queens home where she was allegedly raped, beaten and forced into prostitution for several months, according to court records.

After the girl went missing, in November she was introduced to the suspects, records said. When she refused to choose which pimp she wanted to work for as a prostitute, she was held against her will at a residence on 107th Avenue in Jamaica.

During the time she was held at the home, in addition to the prostitution, she was allegedly beaten and forced to have sex with one of her captors,  according to court documents.

On Feb. 3 she was moved to a home on 177th Street. That day, the girl was able to call her grandmother and 9-1-1, which led to her rescue.

Stephen Garrison, also known, as “Fresh,” Lindsay Archibald, also known as, “Touch”  and Quanesha Hunte, also known as “Peaches,” were arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including sex trafficking, promoting prostitution, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal possession of a weapon, court records said.




Two Queens men indicted on sex trafficking charges

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Two Queens men have been indicted in separate sex trafficking cases for allegedly forcing teen girls to work as prostitutes, District Attorney Richard Brown announced Tuesday.

Peter Gerardi, 28, of Forest Hills, and Christopher Stephensbush, 20, of Richmond Hill, have both been arraigned on kidnapping, prostitution, rape, sex trafficking and other charges, according to the district attorney.

“The defendants are both accused of enslaving three young girls, raping them and forcing them to work as prostitutes. They allegedly forced the girls to turn all of their money over to them,” said Brown.

Gerardi is accused of threatening his 13-year-old victim when she wanted to stop prostituting herself for him. He also allegedly had a 16-year-old work for him as a prostitute through threats of physical violence, according to Brown. Gerardi allegedly had sex with both his victims.

Stephensbush allegedly met his 15-year-old victim while she was taking the bus to school one morning. He is accused of bringing her back to his apartment and not letting her leave until she agreed to work as a prostitute, said Brown. He allegedly raped her several times before temporarily letting her go. He then allegedly made her earn money for him again as a prostitute on multiple occasions.

If convicted, both face up to 25 years to life in prison.




Op Ed: Human trafficking is not victimless

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com


I introduced a bill last year, which Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law, prohibiting the distribution of obscene, business-card-sized ads for prostitutes.  These so-called “chica” cards, which have been handed out along Roosevelt Avenue and adjacent streets for many years, feature promises of “free delivery.”

After a press conference at which I unveiled my chica cards bill, the problem drew attention.  The cards were the subject of some jokes.

And it turned out that one of the cards we enlarged and displayed at the press conference pictured an international supermodel.

The harsh reality, however, is that there is absolutely nothing funny, or glamorous, about prostitution.

The fact is, many women from around the world and across the country are brought here — to New York, to Roosevelt Avenue — and are enslaved, forced to have sex with strangers for the profit of human traffickers and pimps.

We have to dispel the dangerous notion that prostitution is a victimless crime.

And we do that with information and by raising awareness.  Someone aware of the brutal truth is less likely to participate in the continued exploitation of these women.

And that’s the point of the public awareness campaign I am launching.  I put it together in conjunction with the mayor’s office and Restore NYC, a non-profit that provides aftercare services to sex-trafficking victims and operates a safe house in Queens.  The campaign consists of getting posters into storefront windows and informational, palm-sized pamphlets into people’s hands along Roosevelt Avenue and neighboring streets, areas where many of the women trafficked into New York are prostituted.

Again, someone who understands what these women are really going through is less likely to participate in their brutal exploitation.

As Faith Huckel, co-founder of Restore NYC observes, “sex trafficking is one of the most violent humanitarian issues of our day.  To call it anything less is to disregard the trauma, rape and abuse experienced on the part of the victim.”

Traffickers prey on the poor and vulnerable.  They use promises of a good job or a false marriage proposal to lure victims.  Other victims are kidnapped or sold into the sex trade by parents, husbands or boyfriends.  Many of these women are being abused and exploited in public and private locations in our very own communities, including Jackson Heights, Corona and Flushing.

We must seek justice for trafficked women.  To that end I have also I introduced a bill in the New York State Senate to reclassify sex trafficking as a violent felony and increase the minimum jail sentence to five years.  The minimum sentence currently is one to three years.

Classifying sex trafficking as a violent felony not only raises the minimum sentence for a first offense, it can put someone that commits multiple violent offenses away for life under the persistent violent offender law.

By raising awareness and imposing penalties commensurate with the brutality inherent in sex trafficking, I hope that we can put at least some traffickers and pimps out of business and keep them from destroying more lives.

Senator Peralta is the Ranking Democrat on the Labor Committee and also serves as a member of the Finance, Investigations and Insurance Committees.

Candidate apologizes for prostitution ads in his paper

| mchan@queenscourier.com

File photo

An Assembly candidate and newspaper owner who is under fire for having prostitution ads printed in his Korean-language paper’s back pages apologized and said the lewd classifieds were a reminder that Flushing’s “quality of life is under attack.”

Myungsuk Lee, a 40th Assembly District hopeful, had published ads for seemingly legal massage services that ultimately served as disguises for illegal prostitution in his Korean American Times paper, the New York Post reported this week.

Lee, 49, said his paper, which places hundreds of ads per week, printed the ads under the impression the services offered were legal in nature.

“Had my staff known these individuals were, in fact, using these ads and services as a front for illegal activities, they would never have been accepted,” said the Flushing resident.

According to The Post, women answering telephones at numbers posted on at least two of the ads offered hour-long massages for $50. They directed callers to the same building as Lee’s publishing and campaign offices — at Prince Street and 35th Avenue in Flushing — where workers then tried to sell a Post reporter sexual services.

“I live in this community. I work in this community. I am raising a family in this community. I am deeply concerned that this type of illegal behavior is happening all around us every day, and part of the reason why I decided to run for office this year was to work to improve the overall quality of life for Flushing residents,” Lee said.

The Assembly candidate, who raised about $82,000 in campaign funds so far, pledged to discontinue the ads and correct the issue in the district going forward.

“We always need to stay vigilant against those [who] will lie and deceive for personal gain,” he said.

Meanwhile, seven other candidates vying for the same seat have filed their petitions and await a Board of Election’s commissioner’s hearing on July 30 that will determine if they have a sufficient number of signatures to make it on to the September 13 primary ballot.

They are Democrats Ron Kim, Martha Flores-Vazquez, Ethel Chen, Yen Chou, John Scandalios and Republicans Phil Gim and Sunny Hahn.

The seat is currently held by Assemblymember Grace Meng, who is heading into a general election for the 6th Congressional seat against Councilmember Dan Halloran.

Two hot-sheets motels closed for prostitution activity

| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Michael Pantelidis

Five motel employees who offered customers more than mints on their pillows may be checking into jail.

District Attorney Richard A. Brown announced that the employees, who worked at the Kew Motor Inn, located at 139-01 Grand Central Parkway, and the Par Central Motor Inn, located at 82-85 Parsons Boulevard – both of which are located in residential areas of Kew Gardens – were arrested for prostitution-related offenses during police raids on the night of March 27. The two motels, which served as havens for prostitutes and their pimps, were also closed under the city’s nuisance abatement law.

According to Brown, undercover police officers posing as prostitutes and customers have visited the two motels since December of 2011, witnessing various acts of illegal activity.

The five defendants, identified as Par Central desk clerks Harripersa Ramjattan, Bhaskar Chaniha and Wojuech Sady and Kew Motor Inn desk clerks Atm Raham and Masum Chowdhury, allegedly accepted bribes, allowed undercover officers to rent rooms without proper identification and knowingly allowed prostitution activity on the premises. The employees also occasionally assisted in illegal actions, including notifying undercover officers posing as prostitutes when customers had arrived and directing the clients to the rooms.

“These two motels have been deemed public nuisances that have generated numerous prostitution-related arrests – including those involving underage girls – during the past year and have been the subject of numerous complaints from local residents,” Brown said. “This office – together with our law enforcement and other governmental agency colleagues – is committed to working with local communities in eliminating crime and business practices that promote criminal activity. The actions that we have taken this week send a clear message – businesses that allow prostitution or other illegal activity to occur on their premises are at risk of being shut down.”

Ramjattan and Raham, 63 and 56 years old respectively, have been charged with promoting prostitution, first-and-second-degree falsifying business records, second-degree commercial bribe receiving and permitting prostitution, and face seven years in prison if convicted. Chaniha, 52, and Chowdhury, 46, each face four years in prison if found guilty of first-and-second degree falsifying business records, second-degree commercial bribe receiving and permitting prostitution. Wojuech Sady – the youngest of the defendants at 25 years of age – was charged with promoting prostitution, second-degree commercial bribe receiving, fourth-degree promoting prostitution and permitting prostitution. If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison.

This Morning’s Headlines

| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Teen Accused Of Vandalizing Queens Playground

The teenager police believe was responsible for vandalizing a playground in Far Rockaway, Queens was arrested Thursday. Allan Swafford, 17, was charged with unauthorized use of a vehicle, criminal mischief and burglary. Much of the new equipment in the new Far Rockaway park was broken. The damage will cost the city tens of thousands of dollars and the June opening might now be delayed. Read More: NY1


Queens motels shut down, employees arrested in prostitution sting

Two Queens motels were shut down this week after five employees were busted by cops for their alleged involvement in a prostitution ring. Desk clerks Harripersa Ramjattan, Bhaskar Chanika, Wojuech D. Sady, Atm Raham and Masum Chowdhury at the Kew Motor Inn and Par Central Motor Inn, both located in Kew Gardens, were charged for promoting prostitution, falsifying business records, commercial bribe receiving and permitting prostitution. Read More: New York Post


Demonstrators Want Police Officer Arrested For Shooting Unarmed Bronx Teen

A rally was held by a Bronx police precinct Thursday night, as advocates demanded that the police officer who killed unarmed 18-year-old Ramarley Graham last month should be arrested and face criminal charges. Ramarley Graham, 18, was shot last month by Police Officer Richard Haste, who along with several narcotics agents chased the teen into his house on East 229th Street in Wakefield after an alleged drug deal. Read More: NY1


NYC stores ready to ditch synthetic pot in wake of state ban

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Deliberations To Begin In Handyman’s Murder Trial

Deliberations are set to begin Friday in the trial of a handyman accused of killing a Manhattan building cleaner and hiding her body in an air-conditioning duct. A lawyer for Joseph Pabon says officials rushed to judgement when they charged Pabon with smothering 46-year-old Eridania Rodriguez in 2009. But during his summation Thursday, the prosecutor in the case argued the evidence proves Pabon’s guilt. Read More: NY1


Mega Millions jackpot grows again, reaches $540M

The Mega Millions jackpot just got bigger — $40 million bigger to be exact. The record lottery jackpot climbed to a staggering $540 million this afternoon, officials said. Since Tuesday’s drawing, when no winning tickets were sold, the jackpot has grown twice — from $363 million to $500 million to $540 amount. The $500 million was already the largest in history for a multistate game. Read More: New York Post

New security plan in works for problem-plagued Village McD’s

The owner of the problem-plagued Greenwich Village McDonald’s met last night with police brass and political reps to hash out plans to improve safety and security, The Post has learned. Some of the ideas floated were the hiring of off-duty NYPD officers to act as guards, giving police remote Internet access to the eatery’s surveillance cameras, and cordoning off seating after a certain hour to prevent customers from lingering, Deputy Inspector Brandon del Pozo of the Sixth Precinct told concerned residents at a community meeting. Read More: New York Post

Teen survives five-story elevator fall at Bronx apartment

A teen miraculously survived a five-story plunge inside a broken elevator at a Bronx apartment building last night, authorities and witnesses said. Kenneth Lacen, 17, had boarded the elevator on the fifth floor of the building on Woodycrest Avenue near Yankee Stadium at around 9 p.m. when it suddenly went into a terrifying free fall and crashed in the basement, authorities and witnesses told The Post. Read More: New York Post

Spike Lee settles for retweeting wrong address

An elderly couple has reached a settlement with Spike Lee after the pair said they had to leave their Florida home after the director help spread a Twitter posting listing their address as that of the man who shot an unarmed teen. The couple’s attorney, Matt Morgan, announced the settlement Thursday. Morgan says Lee called them to apologize for retweeting their address. Specifics of the settlement weren’t disclosed. Read More: New York Post