New York Man Convicted of Sex Trafficking of Minors
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Patricia M. Ferrick, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that a jury in Hartford has found EDWARD THOMAS, also known as “Fire,” 40, of New York, guilty of the sex trafficking of minors. The trial before U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny began on January 15.
According to the evidence at trial, in September 2012, THOMAS, a New York-based pimp, answered an Internet prostitution advertisement for a 17-year-old girl (“MV1”) in Oregon. Over the next month, THOMAS recruited and enticed MV1 to travel to New York to work for him. MV1 eventually agreed and traveled to New York with a second girl (“MV2”), who was 16 at the time, using bus tickets purchased by THOMAS. THOMAS discussed with both MV1 and MV2 that they would be prostituting for him in New York and Connecticut.
After MV1 and MV2 arrived in New York, THOMAS and the two minor girls went immediately to a hotel in Milford, Connecticut, where they met Kayla Walters, THOMAS’ co-defendant, and posted prostitution advertisements. THOMAS knew that MV1 and MV2 were under the age of 18. In Milford, MV1 and MV2 saw customers for commercial sex acts at the direction of THOMAS. While MV2 escaped from a hotel room window after several hours, MV1 continued to work for THOMAS for about a month, turning over all of the money she earned in prostitution to THOMAS. When MV1 attempted to leave, THOMAS forcibly restrained her. Ultimately, MV1 was recovered for the first time by the FBI and local police in Milford on November 8, 2012. Law enforcement seized nearly $4,000 in cash from THOMAS during the first recovery, along with several computers and cellular phones.
THOMAS recruited MV1 a second time in July 2013 and again paid for her travel from Oregon to the East Coast. After THOMAS sent Walters and MV1 to Connecticut to make money for him, the FBI and local police again recovered MV1 from a hotel in Milford.
“This defendant preyed on the vulnerabilities of two girls whom he lured 3000 miles away from their homes,” stated U.S. Attorney Daly. “The U.S. Attorney Office is committed to prosecuting individuals who manipulate minors into committing sexual acts—often under the threat of violence—and profit handsomely from this illegal and reprehensible conduct. I thank the FBI for their vigilance in investigating these crimes, which have resulted not only in criminal convictions, but in the rescue of numerous girls and young women from terrible environments.”
“Human trafficking, especially for the purpose of underage prostitution, is a heinous crime,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Ferrick. “The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to aggressively pursue these criminals and hold them accountable.”
THOMAS was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor and two counts of sex trafficking of a minor. Judge Chatigny scheduled sentenced for April 17, 2015, at which time THOMAS faces a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum term of imprisonment of life.
On November 10, 2014, Walters pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor. She awaits sentencing.
THOMAS and Walters have been detained since their arrests on February 28, 2014.
THOMAS’ criminal history includes a 2007 conviction in New Jersey for promoting prostitution with a child under the age of 18.
This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Connecticut Child Exploitation Task Force, which includes federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The Stratford and Milford Police Departments have assisted the investigation.
The Connecticut Child Exploitation Task Force, which is housed at the main FBI office in New Haven, investigates crimes against children occurring over the Internet, and provides computer forensic review services for participating agencies. For more information about the Task Force, or to report child exploitation crimes, please contact the FBI at 203-777-6311.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David E. Novick and Sarala V. Nagala.