Attorney General Cuomo Announces Takedown Of Prostitution Ring Operating On Craigslist

NEW YORK, NY (May 20, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the takedown of a prostitution ring operating on Craigslist, headquartered in Queens, resulting in the indictment of seven people and a corporation for enterprise corruption, conspiracy and money laundering.

Scott “Sal” Rosenberg, 45, and Josef Davenport, 31, are accused of co-owning and operating a prostitution enterprise called Room Service Entertainment (“RSE”), headquartered in Ozone Park, Queens and advertised exclusively in the Erotic Services section of Craigslist. RSE manager and booker, Patricia “Nikki” Krupa, 32, and four other bookers associated with the operation were also charged in the forty-seven count indictment unsealed today in Queens County Court.

“Until Craigslist gets serious about putting real protections in place, it will continue to be an environment where criminal operations thrive with impunity," said Attorney General Cuomo. “Even after so-called reform of the website last fall, this prostitution ring easily gamed the system and allegedly used Craigslist to spread its illegal operation throughout all five boroughs and beyond. Today's arrests underscore the inherent risks posed by Craigslist and, most importantly, the need for protections that are full-fledged, not half-baked.”

From June 2007 through December 2008, RSE allegedly employed numerous “bookers,” drivers, and prostitutes. Although RSE initially advertised in The Village Voice and other local papers, Craigslist became the sole vehicle through which the company operated. The “bookers” for RSE continuously created and posted prostitution advertisements on Craigslist’s Erotic Services section because the more current the post, the more prominently the ad was featured on Craigslist. These postings contained either a pornographic or semi-pornographic photograph and a phone number to call to arrange a “date.”

At the operation’s Ozone Park office, bookers would answer the numerous phone lines and ask each potential “John” his location and what he was looking for. The bookers would them tell him who and what was available, then give the rate and set up an appointment. The bookers were instructed not to explicitly discuss sex during the telephone conversations with the “Johns” and instead use designated terms to describe the services. For example “GFE” means girl friend experience or “skiing” and “rock climbing” means drugs and partying. The booker then contacted the drivers employed by RSE to take a prostitute to the arranged location. The prostitute called the office when she was ready to be picked up after meeting the “John,” and the bookers dispatched a driver to pick her up.

RSE allegedly operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and serviced all five boroughs in New York City, as well as Westchester, Long Island and elsewhere. Rosenberg’s role was to oversee the day-to-day operation of the business, while Davenport was responsible for its finances.

Along with Room Service Entertainment, the individuals charged in the 47-count indictment unsealed today in Queens County Court are:

  • Scott “Sal” Rosenberg, 45, of Massapequa, NY
  • Josef Davenport, 31, of Brooklyn, NY
  • Patricia “Nikki” Krupa, 32, of Brooklyn, NY
  • Joanna “Anna” Mercado, 24, of Brooklyn, NY
  • Sylvia “Jamie” Soto, 29, of Brooklyn, NY
  • Lina “Tina” Vazquez, 24, of Jamaica, NY
  • Barbara “Lisa” Morris, 48, of Astoria, NY

All defendants are charged with a top count of enterprise corruption, a B felony. If convicted, Rosenberg faces a minimum of 4 ½ - 9 years and a maximum of 12 ½ - 25 years’ imprisonment; the other defendants face a minimum of one to three years and a maximum of 8 1/3 - 25 years’ imprisonment.

The Attorney General’s investigation included the analysis of phone records, interviews, physical surveillance, and evidence seized pursuant to a search warrant. It was conducted by Investigators Fridda Oquendo, Milton Branch and Brian Badal from the New York State Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force, under the supervision of OCTF Deputy Chief Dominick Zarrella and OCTF Chief Thomas Mullen, under the ultimate supervision of the Attorney General’s Chief Investigator, Joseph D’Amico

The case is being prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Laura Kirschstein, under the supervision of First Assistant Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Robin L. Baker.

Today’s charges are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent until or unless proven guilty.