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Post date: October 15 2013

A.G. Schneiderman Announces Bust Of Multi-County Sex Trafficking Ring In Central New York

Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force Arrests Three Members Of Ring That Exploited And Preyed Upon Underage Girls

Schneiderman: My Office Will Use The Full Force Of The Law To Punish Anyone Who Exploits Women For Profit

SYRACUSE – Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the arrest of three members of a sex trafficking ring that operated in Syracuse, Watertown, Ithaca and elsewhere in New York State. Investigators allege that Eric Oliver, age 30, of Syracuse, was the leader of the ring, and was assisted by Tirra Pate, age 19, of Syracuse and Jessica Moro, age 19, of Cicero, New York. Together, these individuals preyed on women as young as 15 years old, recruiting them to work as prostitutes; and in certain instances intimidating them with the use of physical force to compel them to commit acts of prostitution; and, in other instances, providing cocaine, heroin and the drug MDMA (known as “molly”) to the prostitutes in order for them to continue working. 

“There are few crimes as heinous as forcing women into prostitution and transporting them against their will. Unfortunately, this case is emblematic of the horrors of human trafficking, which is an issue of international importance. We must redouble our efforts to protect people forced into a horrible life from which they feel they can’t escape,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “I commend our Organized Crime Task Force, the State Police, and local law enforcement for their diligent work and critical support in bringing these criminals to justice.”

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D'Amico said, "This modern-day type of slavery will not be tolerated in New York State. With these arrests, a sex-trafficking ring has been dismantled, and victims, some as young as 15 years old, have been freed from a forced lifestyle. While human trafficking can be a difficult crime to detect, public awareness and the continued hard work of law enforcement and agencies like the New York Attorney General's Office and the Organized Crime Task Force will continue to bring these groups to justice."

The sex trafficking ring was so brazen that Oliver made phone calls directing its operation from jail even though he was warned that the calls could be recorded. Oliver called Moro and Pate from the Watertown and Ithaca jails during the past year to direct them to transport prostitutes to various locations. He also phoned Moro from jail with instructions to provide drugs to a prostitute to get her to work.

The defendants are being arraigned today before the Honorable Anthony F. Aloi in Onondaga County Court. Oliver faces charges including two counts of Sex Trafficking, a Class B felony that can land him in prison for 10 to 25 years; Compelling Prostitution, another Class B felony; Promoting Prostitution in the 2nd and 3rd Degrees, Class C and D felonies; Rape in the 3rd Degree, a Class E felony, and Conspiracy in the 5th Degree, a Class A Misdemeanor. 

Moro faces facing charges of Promoting Prostitution in the 2nd and 3rd Degrees, Class C and D felonies, and Conspiracy in the 5th Degree, a Class A Misdemeanor.

Pate faces facing charges of Sex Trafficking, which is a Class B felony; Promoting Prostitution in the 3rd Degree, a Class D felony, and Conspiracy in the 5th Degree, a Class A Misdemeanor.

The investigation was conducted by Senior Investigator Peter Burns of the New York State Police Special Investigations Unit, Investigator Michael Pastuf of the New York State Police, Troop D Bureau of Criminal Investigations and Detective Dawn Daly of the Syracuse Police Missing Persons Unit. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office, Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office, Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office and Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office also provided valuable assistance.

The case is being prosecuted by OCTF Assistant Deputy Attorney General and Senior Investigative Counsel James J. Mindell, under the supervision of OCTF Deputy Attorney General Peri Alyse Kadanoff and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Criminal Justice Kelly Donovan.

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