The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the New York City Police Department, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) today announced charges in a domestic sex trafficking operation run by a father and son. The indictments are the result of a long-term joint investigation between the DA’s Human Trafficking Program, the DA’s Major Economic Crimes Bureau, and the agencies above.
The broad-based charges include a multi-count indictment against VINCENT GEORGE, SR. (“GEORGE SR.”), 55, and his son, VINCENT GEORGE, JR. (“GEORGE JR.”), 33, for Sex Trafficking, Money Laundering, and Promoting Prostitution. On April 6, 2012, those defendants, along with GRIP ENTERTAINMENT, a company created by GEORGE JR. in part to provide a seemingly legitimate business through which to launder sex trafficking proceeds, were arraigned in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
Six livery drivers were indicted on charges of Promoting Prostitution; they are expected to be arraigned today in New York County Supreme Court, Part 62, before the Honorable Renee A. White. Individuals who paid for the services of the prostituted women are expected to be charged in the coming days.
“Prostitution is not a glamorous business, contrary to how it is depicted in the media and popular culture,” said District Attorney Vance. “Prostituted women, men, and children are often physically abused, psychologically coerced, and fearful of reporting their abuse to authorities. Similar to what we see in domestic violence cases, these victims are often emotionally and economically dependent upon their abusers, and remain silent as their worlds grow smaller and more dangerous. However, through the use of a variety of investigative tools, we have been able to pierce this silence and seek to hold accountable those who facilitated the success of this criminal operation. Along with our partners in law enforcement and the advocate community, we’ve made it easier for prostituted individuals to report crime and obtain services. It’s part of an evolving approach that my Office’s Human Trafficking Program is bringing to this issue, and one that addresses the modern day realities in prostitution and trafficking cases.”
NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said: “This was not your typical father and son business. Vincent George Sr. and Vincent George Jr. exploited women, transporting them from Pennsylvania to johns in Midtown Manhattan. I commend the NYPD’s Vice Enforcement Division, the Manhattan DA’s Office and federal investigators for shutting down both the johns and the Georges.”
James T. Hayes, Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New York, said: “Criminal organizations thrive on profit, and falsely believe they can hide their illicit capital in legitimate businesses. HSI’s Asset Identification and Removal Group (AIRG) is an effective tool to identify and seize money, vehicles, real estate and other assets that are the illegitimate gains of all criminal activity.”
According to documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court, the women who are alleged to have been prostituted by GEORGE SR. and GEORGE JR. have for years been coming into Manhattan from Queens and Allentown, Pennsylvania. The women solicited prostitution clients at various upscale hotel bars and outside of strip clubs, and distributed business cards under fake names offering their services as “professional masseuses.”
Pictured: Examples of business cards passed out by
prostituted women in this sex trafficking operation
As is typical in domestic sex trafficking cases, the trafficked victims were required to turn over all prostitution proceeds directly to their traffickers, who doled out only a few dollars a night to buy food and other necessities. As a result, the women had no control over their finances, making prostituted victims essentially helpless if they were to attempt to leave the operation.
As stated on the record in court at the arraignment of GEORGE SR. and GEORGE JR., the women performed sex acts for money in hotels, apartments, and the backseats of cars, charging between $200-$500 per customer. Livery cab drivers, including those charged today, also arranged for and profited from the prostitution services between their passengers and the trafficking victims.
As stated in the bail application at arraignment, both GEORGE SR. and GEORGE JR. employed other forms of psychological manipulation and domination in an effort to maintain their control over the prostituted victims. For example, they branded victims with tattoos depicting their street names, and at least one of the women was tattooed with a bar code as well. GEORGE SR. and GEORGE JR. are alleged to have psychologically abused their victims, by first demeaning them and later appearing to reward them with offers of love and affection.
As stated in court, both GEORGE SR. and GEORGE JR. are charged with regularly threatening their victims with physical violence for infractions, such as being late or not bringing in enough money. The victims were given quotas of money they were required to earn, and berated if they fell short. The traffickers are accused of laundering the money the women earned for them by converting the cash into United States Postal Money Orders, and by washing it through GRIP ENTERTAINMENT, a corporate entity they controlled and used to disguise and conceal the illegal source of the criminal proceeds.
In coordination with Pennsylvania State Police, GEORGE JR. and GEORGE SR. were arrested together in a vehicle while transporting a young woman to Pennsylvania from Upstate New York to work for their operation.
As part of this investigation, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, along with the NYPD and federal partners, seized 10 vehicles, three houses in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and more than $200,000 from bank accounts, all related to this operation. The District Attorney’s Office is pursuing forfeiture of these and other assets in partnership with the Unites States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Human Trafficking Program
In March 2012, District Attorney Vance created a Human Trafficking Program within the Office’s Special Victims Bureau to investigate and prosecute sex and labor trafficking cases, better identify trafficking victims, provide greater support for victims and their families in partnership with those in the victims’ advocate community, and educate law enforcement and the public about trafficking and related issues through community outreach, workshops, and seminars. The Program also works to identify cases that may involve elements of trafficking from hundreds of street arrests that come in through other areas of the Office.
Assistant District Attorney John Temple, Attorney in Charge of the Human Trafficking Program, led the investigation into this case, assisted by Assistant District Attorneys Kim Han and Vimi Bhatia, both of the Major Economic Crimes Bureau, and Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Barron of the Sex Crimes Unit. The investigation was supervised by Assistant District Attorney Polly Greenberg, Chief of the Major Economic Crimes Bureau, and Executive Assistant District Attorneys Karen Friedman Agnifilo, Chief of the Trial Division, and Adam S. Kaufmann, Chief of the Investigation Division. Senior Intelligence Analyst Samantha Gillespie, Investigative Analyst Marguerite Colson, Trial Preparation Assistant Benjamin Hoffman, and Human Trafficking Specialist Melissa Martinez of the Witness Aid Services Unit also assisted in the case. Assistant District Attorney Duncan Levin, Chief of the Asset Forfeiture Unit, is handling the asset recovery aspects of the case and is coordinating asset forfeiture with the federal government.
District Attorney Vance thanked Police Commissioner Kelly and NYPD Detectives Joseph Panico, John Kopack, Jessica Sterling, and William McCabe, who were supervised by Lieutenant Michael Costello and Deputy Inspector Anthony Favale.
District Attorney Vance also thanked Special Agent in Charge of HSI New York James T. Hayes, Jr., and Agents Shawn Polonet and Keith Hufford; Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarah Paul and John Gallagher; the United States Postal Inspection Service; the Allentown Police Department Vice Unit; and the Pennsylvania State Police.
VINCENT GEORGE, JR., D.O.B. 05/25/1978
VINCENT GEORGE, SR., D.O.B. 03/17/1957
AUSAMA AHMAD, D.O.B. 5/1/1975
QABARI GABER, D.O.B. 8/21/1955
New York, NY
THEO JONES, D.O.B. 12/27/1960
Union City, NJ
DAVID LOMBARDO, D.O.B. 11/30/1956
ASSAF NAHOMOVE, D.O.B. 8/6/1971
Fair Lawn, NJ
SOKOL PERKAJ, D.O.B. 9/2/1960
The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.