FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 16, 2015
Owners and Manager of Brooklyn and Queens Hotels Charged
With Promoting Prostitution and Falsifying Records
Workers Allegedly Directed Johns to Prostitutes Inside Sunset Park and Flushing Hotels;
Arrested Following Undercover Investigation; Closure Orders Served on Both Hotels
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, together with Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, FBI Assistant Director in Charge Diego G. Rodriguez, Acting Special Agent in Charge of Homeland Security Investigations Glenn Sorge, today announced that two owners and a manager of two sister hotels, located in Sunset Park, Brooklyn and Flushing, Queens, have been variously charged with promoting prostitution and falsifying business records after an investigation revealed that employees directed clients to rooms that were occupied by sex workers.
District Attorney Thompson said, “We believe that this hotel was being used by pimps and prostitutes and that hotel workers allegedly facilitated this criminal activity. We will not tolerate prostitution-based businesses to operate in Brooklyn and create a nuisance in the community. We closed down this hotel and will hold everyone involved in illegal operations there responsible.”
Queens District Attorney Brown said, “This case is another example of the close law enforcement relationships that we have established to combat human traffickers and those who aid and abet them. Let the message be heard loud and clear that those who would profit from, assist and aid in this, one of the most heinous crimes being inflicted upon humankind, will have to answer for their crimes in a court of law.”
Attorney General Schneiderman said, “These arrests are one piece of a focused, comprehensive effort by my office and our law enforcement partners to seek out human trafficking in New York – a deplorable form of modern-day slavery. We will use every law enforcement tool at our disposal to identify and shut down hotels and other businesses that illegally profit from the trafficking of men, women, and children. Together with the expertise of District Attorney Thompson and the New York State Interagency Task Force on Human Trafficking, I’m confident that we can accomplish our shared goal of ending human trafficking in our state.”
Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI New York Field Office, Diego G. Rodriguez said, “Prostitution facilitates the activities of other criminals with direct connections to human trafficking, organized crime, and other illegal activities. The migratory nature of these crimes makes it critical for law enforcement entities to work together to tackle this widespread dilemma. The FBI continues to work with our law enforcement partners who play a role in combating this type of criminal activity.”
Glenn Sorge, acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations, New York said, “These arrests are part of a comprehensive effort by federal and local authorities to rid neighborhoods of businesses that contribute to prostitution which can lead to human trafficking and other crimes. HSI is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to rid our neighborhoods of these deplorable activities.”
District Attorney Thompson identified the defendants as Cui Yu Li aka Lucy Li, 50, Xiao Ming Lu, 53, both of 136-05 Sanford Avenue in Queens, and Amy Vincent aka Qing Li, 43, of 723 40th Street in Brooklyn. Lu and Vincent were each charged with fourth-degree promoting prostitution, permitting prostitution and second-degree falsifying business records. They face up to a year in jail if convicted. Li was charged with permitting prostitution and second-degree criminal nuisance. She faces up to three months in jail if convicted.
Vincent was employed as the desk manager at Sunny 39 Hotel at 517 39th Street in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. According to the investigation, on at least three different occasions she directed patrons to rooms booked by undercover police officers who were posing as a pimp and a prostitute. The rooms were booked without requesting identification or a signature as required and in one occasion the defendant accepted a $20 “tip” from the undercover.
A search warrant was executed at the hotels on October 15, 2015. Li, the principal owner, was present at the premises of Sunny 39 and was found in possession of guest receipts that showed numerous short stay rentals and has also allegedly maintained premises where unlawful prostitution openly occurred. A nuisance abatement closure orders were served on both hotels, directing the establishments be shut down.
Lu, who is Li’s husband, is the principal owner of the New Farrington Hotel at 33-53 Farrington Street in Flushing, Queens. It is alleged that he similarly directed patrons to rooms occupied by prostitutes.
District Attorney Thompson said that Sunny 39 Hotel has been the subject of numerous community complaints and 911 calls regarding prostitution. Several ads on Backpage.com for individual sex workers directed clients to the hotel and a hotel room appeared in the background of one such advertisement.
The District Attorney thanked the Queens DA’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, the New York State Attorney General’s Office, the New York City Police Department, New York City Department of Buildings, New York State Department of Labor and New York State Workers Compensation Board for their assistance in this investigation.
The case was investigated by Detective Investigator William Pettie, Deputy Chief of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau, under the overall supervision of Chief Investigator Richard Bellucci.
The Queens case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Jessica Melton, the supervisor of District Attorney Brown’s Human Trafficking Unit, under the supervision of the Special Proceeding Bureau Deputy Chief Oscar Ruiz and Bureau Chief Anthony M. Communiello.
The Brooklyn case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney David Weiss of the District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Unit, and Assistant District Attorney Laura Neubauer, Chief, under the supervision of Miss Gregory, Chief of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau.
A criminal complaint is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt.