MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — This traffic was off the meter.
Six New York City livery cab drivers were arraigned in Manhattan Supreme Court Monday on charges they pimped sex trafficking victims to their customers in a wide-ranging ring that proffered girls in hotel rooms, apartments, and even the back of their taxis for between $200 to $500.
Prosecutors say the half-dozen drivers were part of a ring run by Vincent George, Sr. 55, of Allentown PA and his son, Vincent George Jr, 33, of Queens. The pair allegedly started up the company Grip Entertainment to launder money generated by their illicit ring, which used phony names and business cards that presented the women as “professional masseuses.”
The women were held as virtual hostages, getting a scant amount of money from each transaction to cover food and necessities, prosecutors said. They were physically and emotionally abused, and one woman was forced to get a tattoo of a bar code, prosecutors said.
“Prostitution is not a glamorous business, contrary to how it is depicted in the media and popular culture,” said District Attorney Cy Vance. “Prostituted women, men, and children are often physically abused, psychologically coerced, and fearful of reporting their abuse to authorities.”
George and his son were arraigned on charges of sex trafficking, money laundering, and promoting prostitution in New York State Supreme Court earlier this month, while the six cabdrivers were arraigned Monday. Prosecutors charged the following cabdrivers with felony promoting prostitution: Ausama Ahmad, 36, of Brooklyn; Qabari Gaber, 56, of Manhattan; Theo Jones, 51, of NJ; David Lombardo, 55, of New Jersey; and Sokol Perkaj, 51, of Upstate New York. Assaf Nahomove, 43, of NJ, was charged with misdemeanor promoting prostitution.
Prosecutors said the johns who partook in the services are expected to be arraigned throughout the week.
The joint operation was the combined work of the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, the NYPD, and Immigration Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigation, the DA said.
Prosecutors said the women were brought to Manhattan from Queens and Allentown PA to Manhattan to service clients.
A lawyer for one of the drivers defended his client Monday.
"What livery car driver doesn't kow where you can get a girl?" said Bob Walter, defense attorney for Theo Jones.