U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of New York
(212) 637-2600
June 25, 2015

Bronx Sex Trafficker Sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to 20 Years in Prison

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced that IRA RICHARDS, a/k/a “Shyne,” of the Bronx, New York, was sentenced yesterday in Manhattan federal court to 20 years in prison for conspiring to commit sex trafficking of a woman by force, fraud, and coercion (“Victim-1”), and for sex trafficking of a minor female (“Victim-2”). RICHARDS was also ordered to pay a total of $22,500 in restitution: $9,000 to Victim-1, and $13,500 to Victim-2. RICHARDS’ sentence was imposed yesterday by United States District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan. RICHARDS was arrested in October 2013 by the FBI and NYPD, after Victim-1 and Victim-2 reported RICHARDS to law enforcement, and RICHARDS has been in federal custody since his arrest. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Ira Richards not only exploited vulnerable victims as part of his sex trafficking crimes, but also demeaned and brutalized them with senseless acts of violence. Now he will be held to account with a lengthy term in federal prison.”

According to the Complaint, the Superseding Indictment, other documents filed in Manhattan federal court, and statements made at various proceedings in this case:

RICHARDS was a violent pimp who exploited Victim-1 and Victim-2 by causing them to engage in prostitution for RICHARDS’ own personal financial gain, RICHARDS demeaned Victim-1 and Victim-2 by commanding them to call him “Daddy” and follow other dehumanizing rules imposed by him, and RICHARDS repeatedly brutalized them with beatings, rape, and other acts of violence for not following his mandates.

Victim-1

In or around 2012, RICHARDS convinced Victim-1, who was then in her mid-twenties, to work for him as a prostitute. RICHARDS recruited Victim-1 by promising to provide a place for Victim-1 to live with her infant, child care for her infant, and other basic necessities.

From at least in or about July through August 2012, RICHARDS managed Victim-1’s prostitution activities along with an uncharged co-conspirator (“CC-1”) who also worked for RICHARDS as a prostitute. RICHARDS and CC-1 caused Victim-1 to engage in prostitution at locations in the New York City area, including at Hunts Point in the Bronx. Almost all of the proceeds earned from Victim-1’s prostitution went to RICHARDS. RICHARDS caused advertisements to be posted on classified websites such as Backpage.com offering Victim-1 for commercial sex under her street nickname. The advertisements typically featured photographs of women (other than Victim-1) wearing little clothing, and a telephone number to call.

RICHARDS imposed a strict code of conduct on Victim-1 requiring that she call him “Daddy,” refrain from acknowledging or even looking at another pimp, and meet earnings quotas he set, among other mandates. RICHARDS punished violations of his code with brutality such as beatings and rape.

For example, on at least three or four occasions in or about July and August 2012, RICHARDS forcibly sodomized Victim-1 for displeasing him.

Similarly, in or about July or August 2012, RICHARDS assaulted Victim-1 for attempting to escape from him. At the time, Victim-1, her infant, and a 19-year-old woman who also worked as a prostitute for RICHARDS, lived in an apartment maintained by RICHARDS. In or about July or August 2012, Victim-1 tried to flee from RICHARDS to a different pimp. Shortly thereafter, RICHARDS found Victim-1 and brought her back to the apartment, where RICHARDS beat Victim-1 in the presence of her infant, among others. During the beating, RICHARDS made Victim-1 strip naked and kneel, and then RICHARDS continually hit Victim-1 in her head and body with an umbrella until the umbrella broke. After the beating, Victim-1 asked RICHARDS to take her to the hospital. RICHARDS refused, and instead forced Victim-1 to engage in prostitution with a swollen eye and other injuries he had caused.

Victim-2

In or about 2010, when Victim-2 was 17 years old, RICHARDS convinced Victim-2 to work for him as a prostitute. At the time, RICHARDS was almost ten years older than Victim-2. While Victim-2 was 17 years old, RICHARDS caused Victim-2 to engage in prostitution at locations in the Bronx and elsewhere in the New York City area. Almost all of the proceeds earned from Victim-2’s prostitution went to RICHARDS.

Victim-2 continued to work as a prostitute for RICHARDS during several periods after she had turned 18. Like Victim-1, Victim-2 was subjected to violence by RICHARDS as punishment for disobedience or for displeasing him. For example, on or about November 4, 2011, when Victim-2 was 18 years old, RICHARDS engaged in an argument with Victim-2 in an apartment in the Bronx where she was living with RICHARDS, after RICHARDS became angry that Victim-2 had made only about $100 from prostitution that day. Victim-2 decided to leave RICHARDS and called her mother to arrange to go live with her mother. After RICHARDS saw that Victim-2 had packed bags to leave, RICHARDS began to choke Victim-2 and dragged her away from the front door to a separate room in the apartment. RICHARDS turned on a stereo to play loud music, tore Victim-2’s clothing from her body, and struck her with a studded belt numerous times about her body and head. Victim-2 begged RICHARDS to stop, but he refused and did not stop beating her until the belt broke. While Victim-2 was still in pain from injuries suffered as a result of this beating, RICHARDS ordered Victim-2 to service prostitution clients. Victim-2 took prostitution clients at the apartment for the next few days because she initially had difficulty walking after the beating.

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Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and the NYPD in investigating this case.

The prosecution of this case is being overseen by the Office’s General Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Samson Enzer and Rebecca Mermelstein are in charge of the prosecution.

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