by Matthew Reilly, USAO
NEWARK– Two individuals who allegedly forced a child into commercial sex acts at multiple hotels throughout Middlesex, Bergen, and Essex counties, will appear in court today with one of their customers to face federal sex trafficking charges, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Richard Ortiz, 22, and Gabriella Colon, 18, both of Bronx, New York, are charged by complaint with two counts of sex trafficking of a child and one count of transporting a minor in interstate commerce for the purpose of prostitution. Aryeh Goodman, 35, of East Brunswick, New Jersey, is charged in a separate complaint with one count of sex trafficking of a child.
All three defendants are scheduled to appear this afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer in Newark federal court. Ortiz, Colon, and Goodman were originally arrested on related state charges in February 2018.
According to the complaints:
From January 2018 through February 2, 2018 Ortiz and Colon forced a child identified in the complaint as “Victim-1” to engage in commercial sex acts with various individuals at multiple hotels scattered throughout Middlesex, Bergen, and Essex counties.
In January 2018, Colon used her friendship with Victim-1 to convince Victim-1 to visit Colon in New York. After Victim-1 arrived in New York, Victim-1 learned that Colon was prostituting herself to support herself and her boyfriend, Ortiz.
Shortly thereafter, Colon and Ortiz transported Victim-1 to a hotel in New Jersey, where they allegedly took sexually explicit photographs of Victim-1. Colon and Ortiz then posted those images and advertised the sexual services of Victim-1 on Backpage.com.
When customers responded to the online advertisements, Colon or Ortiz would set up “dates” with Victim-1, where they allegedly forced Victim-1 to engage in commercial sex acts with those customers. Colon or Ortiz collected all of the proceeds and purchased a Jaguar, which they then used to transport Victim-1 between New York and New Jersey to engage in additional sex acts.
Goodman, a registered sex offender, was one of the individuals who responded to the advertisements that Colon and Ortiz posted. After Goodman allegedly had sex with Vicitm-1, Goodman offered to pay for additional time with Victim-1 and later invited Victim-1 to travel to New York to meet him.
The sex trafficking charge carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum term of life imprisonment. The conspiracy to transport a minor to engage in prostitution charge is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of life imprisonment. Both charges carry a potential $250,000 fine.
The charges and allegations in the complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney and the District of New Jersey Human Trafficking Coordinator Meredith Williams of the U.S. Attorney’s Office OCDETF/Narcotics Unit in Newark.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Acting Special Agent in Charge Bradley W. Cohen in Newark, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey, and the East Brunswick Police Department, under the direction of Chief James Conroy, with the investigation.