FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
Flatbush Man Sentenced for Sex Trafficking
of Two Teenage Girls and Gun Charge
Victims Rescued by Undercover Police Officer Following Tip from the
Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Flatbush man has been sentenced to 10 years in prison following his guilty plea to two counts of sex trafficking of a child and one count of attempted criminal possession of a weapon.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This defendant, who took advantage of two vulnerable young girls, trafficking them for money in exchange for sex, has now been brought to justice. I am committed to rescuing and protecting our at-risk children and teens from predators who are intent on exploiting and abusing them.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Hakeem Bennett, 24, of Flatbush, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun to eight years in prison for two counts of sex trafficking of a child and two years in prison for second-degree attempted criminal possession of a weapon. The judge ordered the sentences to run consecutively, for a total of 10 years in prison. The defendant was also sentenced to five years’ post-release supervision and must register as a sex offender upon his release from prison.
The District Attorney said that, according to the investigation, on September 30, 2019, the New York City Police Department received information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (which received a tip from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children) regarding the possible sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl. On October 3, 2019, an undercover officer responded to an escort advertisement provided by the FBI, which included photographs of three girls, including the missing 17-year-old and the 15-year-old.
The undercover officer called the phone number provided in the advertisement and engaged in a conversation with a woman regarding sex for money. He later was directed by that same woman to meet her at an address on East 29th Street in Flatbush, Brooklyn.
When the officer arrived at the location, he was met by the 15-year-old victim, who brought him to a house where he met with the defendant and the 17-year-old victim and another, unidentified woman. The undercover and the defendant agreed that the undercover would pay $250 to have sex with the 15-year-old and the 17-year-old. As the undercover, the defendant and the two girls began to walk down the street to a location the defendant agreed to make available for the encounter, he was apprehended by the undercover’s field team.
Upon further investigation, the defendant had been selling both teenagers for sex for several weeks by posting his phone number in escort advertisements and would pretend to be the girl when customers called the number. The defendant would then dispatch the victims to an agreed upon location, after telling them what to do and how much to charge, to meet the customer. In some instances, the defendant had the customers send the money directly to him via payments apps.
The sex trafficking case was investigated by Detective Joseph Spataro of the New York City Police Department, Brooklyn North Vice Module under the supervision of Lieutenant Amy Capogna and in coordination with Detective Elizabeth Gonzalez and Lieutenant Christopher Sharpe, of the NYPD’s Human Trafficking Team. Lieutenant Amy Capogna is the current Commanding Officer of the NYPD Human Trafficking Team.
Supervising Intelligence Analyst Brooke Middleton, of the District Attorney’s Crime Strategies Unit, assisted in the investigation.
The gun case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Nicole Manini of the District Attorney’s Green Zone Trial Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney James Lin, Bureau Chief.
The sex trafficking case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Anna Federico, of the District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Unit, and Assistant District Attorney David Weiss, Deputy Unit Chief, under the overall supervision of Assistant District Attorney Miss Gregory, Chief of the District Attorney’s Special Victims Bureau.