Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. has struck again in his pursuit of eradicating the worlds oldest illegal profession outside of Reno, Nevada. According to New York City newspapers as well as the New York County DA’s Office website, Anna Gristina has some new proverbial bedfellows in Grip Entertainment’s Vincent George, Jr., Vincent George, Sr., Asama Ahmad, Qabari Gaber, Theo Jones, David Lombardo, Assaf Nahomove and Sokol Perkaj. In varying capacities, each of the men face at least one count of Promoting Prostitution. Of significant concern for others, prosecutors claim that “johns” or men who paid for the prostitutes, will be prosecuted in coming days.
It is alleged that at least both Georges pimped out women in a prostitution ring that reached far beyond the Island of Manhattan. Prosecutors claim that the Georges father-son duo created Grip Entertainment as a front to launder money they illegally obtained through sex trafficking. Assisting them were six livery drivers – Ahmad, Gaber, Jones, Lombardo, Nahomove and Perkaj.
Prosecutors believe that George, Sr. and George, Jr., ran their illicit business from Allentown, Pennsylvania into Manhattan and Queens. Prostitutes met prospective and actual customers at a variety of upscale locations from high-end bars to classy hotels. Prostitutes even pursued their one-hour paramours outside strip clubs. In an attempt to hide their conduct, it is believed that prostitutes used fake names and business cards offering their professional masseuse services (It is interesting to note that practicing a profession that requires a license without that licenses – such as law or massage – yes massage, is an “E” felony. Prostitution is “only” a misdemeanor.).
Not nearly as high-end or upscale as the alleged Mommy Madam’s enterprise, prosecutors claim that the prostitutes charged between $200 and $500 a “date” and returned the vast majority of those monies to the George clan. The livery cab drivers who facilitated the enterprise are also believed to have profited. Supporting DA Vance’s assertion as to the magnitude of this criminal organization, over $200,000, along with ten vehicles (including two Mercedes), was seized.
Beyond the relatively large financial magnitude of the crime, of greater concern to prosecutors was the allegation that the women who worked for the Georges were not just abused emotionally, but physically as well. In fact, prosecutors assert that some of the women had their street names branded on their bodies while at least one woman was burned with a bar code. Certainly, if true, this conduct should upset and anger even the regular chorus of people who believe that prosecutions into escort organizations and their consenting adult clients is a waste of tax-payer dollars. While a misunderstanding of the law, how these crimes are perpetrated and their collateral consequences are often wrongfully and willfully disregarded, nobody can ignore allegations such as the alleged physical abuse claimed here.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. took this case as an opportunity to understandingly speak out against the terrible abuse and trafficking of sex workers stating:
“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.”
While the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is commendably trying to reach out to abused women, it still remains a fierce enforcer of New York’s Prostitution laws. In fact, women charged with Prostitution are often offered plea deals closely scrutinized by supervisors in a manner atypical of other misdemeanor offenses. Prosecutors routinely require either a misdemeanor plea and a subsequent withdrawal or a violation plea that demands at least some waiver of sealing. Sadly, as a result, sometimes these women may be victimized again after being saddled with dispositions that can adversely impact immigration status and careers long after they break away from their illegal past. Hopefully, these women who may or may not be part of a trafficking organization and are “just” women who have other mental health or substance abuse issues will be able to utilize the services of the Human Trafficking Program.
Whatever happens to the men caught in this newest sex-for-pay scandal, the crimes they face are some of the most serious in New York State. Sex Trafficking, pursuant to New York Penal Law 230.34, is a “B” felony punishable by mandatory state prison and up to twenty-five years in custody. Briefly, the Georges are guilty of this crime if they advance or profited from Prostitution by either using force or engaging in any scheme to compel or induce the person being patronized to engage in Prostitution activity by means of instilling a fear in that person if the demand is not complied with, the Georges will cause physical injury, serious physical injury, or death to a person; or perform any other act which would not in itself materially benefit the Georges but which is calculated to harm the person who is patronized materially with respect to her health, safety, or immigration status.
In addition to this “B” felony, the men are charged with one or more crime including Money Laundering and Promoting Prostitution, “C” and “D” felonies respectively.
To educate yourself about the crimes listed above – including Escort, Solicitation or Prostitution offenses, follow the highlighted links are review the websites and blogs linked below.
Established by two former Assistant District Attorneys with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the New York criminal lawyers at Crotty Saland PC represent clients accused of or arrested for all crimes throughout the New York City region.