Leahy: AG Nominee Loretta Lynch: A Proven Record Combatting Human Trafficking

Leahy: “Senators who want to show that they care about this issue of human trafficking and child exploitation should be urging for a vote for Loretta Lynch.”

WASHINGTON (Wednesday, March 11, 2015) – As United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Loretta Lynch has built a strong record prosecuting human traffickers and protecting children. Senators who support legislation to prosecute human traffickers and protect victims should also support Lynch’s nomination to be the next Attorney General, Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said Wednesday.

Lynch’s record “is so well established that even prominent Fox News hosts have praised her.  Bill O’Reilly has called her a ‘hero’ for her prosecution of a child rapist. Megyn Kelly has described Ms. Lynch as a ‘straight shooter’ for her overall service as a Federal prosecutor,” Leahy said. “Senators who want to show that they care about this issue of human trafficking and child exploitation should be urging for a vote for Loretta Lynch and voting to confirm her.”

Over the course of the last decade, Lynch’s office in New York has indicted over 55 defendants in sex trafficking cases and rescued over 110 victims of sex trafficking. Prosecutors working under Lynch’s direction have brought 173 prosecutions for child exploitation and child pornography in coordination with the Justice Department’s Project Safe Childhood.   

The Judiciary Committee approved Lynch’s nomination on a bipartisan vote nearly two weeks ago. In the last 30 years, no Attorney General nominee has waited longer than Loretta Lynch to receive a floor vote after being reported from Committee. 

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Notable human trafficking prosecutions under Loretta Lynch’s leadership:

  • United States v. Lopez-Perez et al.: In February 2014, three brothers convicted of sex trafficking were sentenced to double-digit prison terms for running a trafficking ring that enticed victims, as young as 14 and 15 years old, to be transported illegally into the United States and forced to work as prostitutes in New York City and elsewhere. The defendants beat and sexually assaulted the victims to compel them to work and to punish them for not earning enough money, and forced them to turn over all of their earnings to the defendants. The defendants also threatened violence against the victims’ family members to prevent the victims from running away.
  • United States v. Rivera, et al.: Antonio Rivera, the owner of several New York bars, was sentenced to 60 years’ imprisonment for his role in a sex trafficking and forced labor ring. Rivera’s co-defendants, John Whaley and Jason Villaman, were sentenced to 25 and 30 years, respectively. Evidence at trial established that the defendants recruited and harbored in the United States scores of undocumented Latin American immigrants, and forced them to work as waitresses in Rivera’s bars. Rivera and others used violence, including rapes and beatings, as well as fraud and threats of deportation, to compel the victims to work and prevent them from reporting the illegal activity to police.
  • United States v. Granados, et al.: Seven members and associates of the Granados-Hernandez sex trafficking organization were convicted of trafficking and smuggling women and girls to the United States from Mexico for the purpose of prostitution. The four lead defendants, Eleuterio Granados-Hernandez, Samuel Granados-Hernandez and their cousins, Angel Cortez-Granados and Antonio Lira-Robles, were sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from 15 to 22 years. Six children were reunited with their mothers as a result of the investigation.
  • United States v. Johnson (“Dollar Bill”): In August 2012, William Johnson (also known as “Dollar Bill”) was sentenced to 17½ years in prison for sex trafficking a minor. The defendant kept a 15-year-old girl in his home in St. Albans, Queens, prostituted her, and kept the prostitution earnings for himself. At sentencing, the government established that the 15-year-old victim was just one of several underage girls and women Johnson prostituted out of his Queens home.
  • United States v. Estrada-Tepal, et al.: Three brothers are pending trial on charges of trafficking women from Mexico to the United States and causing them to engage in commercial sex acts through force, fraud and coercion. The defendants were arrested in January 2014.
  • United States v. Paul Rivera, et al. (“TF Mafia case”): In this case, currently scheduled for trial in April 2014, the defendants are charged with racketeering conspiracy and racketeering, as well as a host of substantive crimes including murder, drug trafficking, money laundering and witness tampering, as well as sex trafficking. The crimes were allegedly committed in connection with a Brooklyn-based gang called TF Mafia.

Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation:

  • Prosecution of Child Exploitation: In July 2014, an EDNY jury convicted Bebars Baslan of traveling and attempting to engage in sexual acts with a child under 12, and child pornography crimes. Baslan is scheduled to be sentenced in February 2015.
  • Prosecution of Pediatrician for Sexually Abusing Patients: In April 2014, pediatrician Rakesh Punn pleaded guilty to sexually exploiting three of his patients under the guise of providing medical treatment. He faces a sentence of up to 30 years in prison.
  • Prosecution of Joseph Valerio: Valerio, a real estate mogul from Smithtown, Long Island, was convicted on 15 counts of child exploitation relating to two victims. Valerio used email to communicate with a co-conspirator in Ukraine to arrange for images of a toddler to be produced for him and also produced images of a local New York victim. The court ordered the forfeiture of the defendant’s home at the conclusion of the trial. He is awaiting sentencing.
  • U.S. v. Camille Solomon-Eaton: The defendant was convicted at trial of thirteen counts for sexually exploiting her two-year-old daughter and soliciting the sexual exploitation of five other children. Solomon-Eaton took sexually explicit photos of her two-year-old daughter and texted them to a man that she had met in an online chat room. In October 2014, the defendant was sentenced to 17 years imprisonment.
  • Project Safe Childhood: During Loretta Lynch’s tenure, the dedicated prosecutors of EDNY have brought173 prosecutions for child exploitation and child pornography in coordination with the Department’s Project Safe Childhood.

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