Rhode Island Criminal Defense and DUI Lawyer James E. Smith forwards this article on a human-trafficking indictment
01:00 AM EST on Saturday, December 11, 2010
By Amanda MilkovitsJournal Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE –– Two New York men accused of trafficking young women and setting them up for prostitution in an Elmhurst house have been indicted in Rhode Island’s first case involving human trafficking.
Andy Fakhoury and Joseph Defeis, both 23 and originally from Yonkers, were arrested by Providence police in October after an investigation into a tip from the Yonkers, N.Y., police about a 19-year-old woman being held against her will and forced into prostitution in Providence.
The police found the woman’s picture and an offer for “upscale gentlemen” in the adult section of backpage.com, an Internet site with classified advertisements. And then they found the young woman, inside a second-floor apartment at 123 Pinehurst Ave., where she was living with Fakhoury and Defeis.
The woman was returned to her family, and the police pursued their investigation into the two men. They found they had come from Yonkers to Rhode Island prior to 2009 because of a long-standing loophole in the law allowing indoor prostitution. The police also found other victims. The women were forced to serve multiple men each day, according to the attorney general’s office. Fakhoury and Defeis are accused of trafficking women in Providence and North Providence.
A grand jury on Thursday returned a 16-count indictment in the case, the first of its kind since state legislators made prostitution illegal in Rhode Island. Fakhoury and Defeis were each indicted on two counts of human trafficking, two counts of involuntary servitude, two counts of pandering, three counts of conspiracy and one count of possession with the intent to deliver marijuana. Fakhoury is also charged with two counts of first-degree sexual assault, one additional count of involuntary servitude, one additional count of human trafficking and one additional count of pandering. Defeis is additionally charged with one count of simple assault. An arraignment is scheduled for Dec. 29 at Superior Court, Providence.
Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch praised Providence police Sgt. Patrick McNulty and Detective Peter Conley, and prosecutors Sara Tindall Woodman and Bethany Macktaz for their work on the case.
“At the hands of Fakhoury and Defeis, these vulnerable young women were forced into a life of prostitution,” Lynch said in a statement. “With the assistance of advocates from Day One and my office’s Victim Services Unit, the victims will receive the resources necessary to hopefully change their lives.”
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