U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of New York
(212) 637-2600
November 19, 2015

Two Men Charged in Manhattan Federal Court with Sex Trafficking of Minors and Related Crimes

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today that DAVID HOPE, a/k/a “Capo,” was arrested for his alleged role as the leader of a sex trafficking and prostitution enterprise, which exploited vulnerable minor girls and young women. HOPE and KEMAR WILLIAMS were charged in a criminal Complaint with conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and sex trafficking of minors. HOPE was also charged with the use of interstate facilities and interstate travel to promote a prostitution enterprise, and with possession of a firearm and ammunition by a previously convicted felon. HOPE was presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Debra Freeman in Manhattan federal court this afternoon. WILLIAMS remains at large.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “As alleged, David Hope and Kemar Williams recruited vulnerable minor girls and adult women and then sold them for sex in order to profit from their exploitation. Hope is also alleged to have possessed a firearm and to have used guns, threats, and violence to carry out his illegal operations. The arrest of Hope today should make clear that the trafficking of girls and young women will be prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez said: “As alleged, the defendants used violence and fear to prey upon girls and recruit them into a world of exploitation and brutality. Operating out of his Bronx apartment, Hope acted as the leader, with Williams facilitating the prostitution enterprise. The FBI will continue to investigate and bring to justice those who sexually exploit our children.”

According to the allegations in the Complaint unsealed today in Manhattan federal court1:

Since at least 2013, HOPE directed and conducted a criminal sex trafficking and prostitution enterprise (the “Enterprise”) that recruited and exploited minor girls and young women, and then prostituted them using an online classifieds website for his own profit. HOPE, who is wheelchair-bound, operated the Enterprise at his apartment in the Bronx, New York (the “Hope Apartment”), and elsewhere. WILLIAMS participated and engaged in the Enterprise and facilitated the prostitution of minor girls.

Sex trafficking and prostitution enterprises often recruit vulnerable minor victims who lack education, a stable home, family support, and who have suffered past physical and emotional trauma, and exploit those victims’ need for shelter, stability, and affection for their own financial gain. Sex traffickers also prey on young adult women with the same vulnerabilities. Once these sex traffickers have recruited victims, they advertise them on websites dedicated to “escort” services and on classifieds websites. To evade detection by law enforcement, advertisements are posted in the adult entertainment section of the website and purport to offer individuals as mere escorts, but the advertisements signal that they are, in fact, offering individuals for sale for commercial sex acts.

HOPE recruited minors who looked up to him to participate in the Enterprise and other criminal activity, including robberies. HOPE, who was known to carry a firearm, employed myriad tactics—including manipulation, intimidation, coercion, threats, and violence—to recruit and maintain the girls and young women he sold for sex. For example, on at least two occasions, HOPE physically beat one of the adult women he prostituted using his upper body, and on at least one occasion, threatened that victim with a firearm.

At least three minor victims and at least three adults were prostituted by HOPE in the Hope Apartment.

HOPE regularly used the classifieds website Backpage.com (“Backpage”) to advertise young women and girls for commercial sex. HOPE drafted advertisements, chose the sexually provocative photos used in the advertisements, and posted the advertisements using his personal e-mail address and smartphone. When a potential customer responded to an advertisement for commercial sex, HOPE instructed Adult Victim-1 to answer telephone calls or text messages from the customer, ask whether the customers “were affiliated with law enforcement,” and provide the rates that HOPE set for commercial sex. Such rates were based on the length of time that a customer would engage in commercial sex and the number of women or girls involved. For example, on at least two occasions, HOPE offered a “two-girl special” involving minor girls.

When a customer arrived at the Hope Apartment, the customer was escorted by Adult Victim-1 to a room that was enclosed by a curtain and which contained condoms and alcohol and had music playing. Adult Victim-1 then discussed with the customer the length and type of commercial sex acts requested. In the event that such room of the Hope Apartment was occupied by a customer and another customer had arrived at the Hope Apartment, another room in the Hope Apartment was set aside as a waiting area with chairs and some alcohol.

The customer was always required to pay the woman or girl who was prostituted by HOPE in advance of any sexual contact, and all money received from customers was given to HOPE. Adult Victim-1 earned thousands of dollars for HOPE by being prostituted. For example, Adult Victim-1 earned $6,000 over a four-day period for commercial sex, which she gave to HOPE. The amount of money that Minor Victim-1 and Minor Victim-3 received from HOPE for being prostituted was at HOPE’s discretion.

HOPE typically was present in the Hope Apartment while women and girls were being prostituted. HOPE was known to carry a firearm on his person and sometimes slept on top of firearms in the Hope Apartment.

In October 2015, a law enforcement officer (the “UC”) conducted an undercover operation and responded to an advertisement that was posted in the New Haven, Connecticut, section of Backpage and that appeared to be offering minor females for commercial sex as part of a “two girl special” (the “CT Backpage Ad”). The advertisement contained several photos of a female who appeared to be less than 18 years old in sexually provocative poses and had the following heading: “2 freaks❤ . . . Freaky and ready for it.” The UC texted the callback number listed in the advertisement, which instructed the UC to go to a specific room at a motel in Milford, Connecticut (the “Motel”). When the UC approached the door to the room, it was opened by Minor Victim-2, who was prostituted by Hope earlier in 2015. The UC also encountered Minor Victim-1, who was prostituted by HOPE since at least 2013, in the room.

According to records from the Motel, WILLIAMS paid for the Motel room in cash on several days, including on October 26, 2015, the day that the UC encountered Minor Victim-1 and Minor Victim-2. Surveillance video from the Motel also shows WILLIAMS paying a Motel clerk and speaking with HOPE at the Motel. Between August 1, 2015, and November 18, 2015, e-mail addresses believed to have been used by HOPE posted the CT Backpage Ad as well as more than 60 advertisements for commercial sex on Backpage.

HOPE was also charged with possession of a firearm and ammunition by a previously convicted felon. On January 16, 2015, when New York City Police Department (“NYPD”) officers were conducting a search warrant at the Hope apartment, HOPE instructed Minor Female-1 to throw a loaded firearm out of the rear window of the HOPE Apartment. Before it was thrown out of the window, the firearm was in the bed where HOPE was sleeping.

Attached are charts containing the charges against the defendants and the maximum penalties they face, as well as the defendants’ ages and residences. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Any individuals who believe they have information concerning DAVID HOPE, a/k/a “Capo,” or KEMAR WILLIAMS that may be relevant to the investigation should contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at (212) 384-1000 or https://tips.fbi.gov/.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI. He thanked the NYPD for its assistance throughout the investigation, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut, the Connecticut Child Exploitation Task Force, and the Milford, Connecticut, Police Department for their assistance with investigating the defendants’ operations in Connecticut. Mr. Bharara also thanked the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) and the ATF/NYPD Joint Robbery Task Force (SPARTA) for its assistance in the early stages of the investigation, and noted that the investigation is continuing.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher J. DiMase and Sagar K. Ravi are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

United States v. David Hope, et al.

COUNT

CHARGE

DEFENDANTS

MAXIMUM PENALTIES 2

1

Sex Trafficking Conspiracy

(18 U.S.C. § 1591(c))

DAVID HOPE a/k/a “Capo”

KEMAR WILLIAMS

Life

2

Sex Trafficking of Minor Victim-1

(18 U.S.C. § 1591(a) and (b)(2))

DAVID HOPE a/k/a “Capo”

KEMAR WILLIAMS

Life

3

Sex Trafficking of Minor Victim-2

(18 U.S.C. § 1591(a) and (b)(2))

DAVID HOPE a/k/a “Capo”

KEMAR WILLIAMS

Life

4

Use of Interstate Commerce to Promote a Prostitution Enterprise

(18 U.S.C. § 1952(a)(3))

DAVID HOPE a/k/a “Capo”

20 years in prison

5

Felon in Possession

(18 U.S.C. § 922(g))

DAVID HOPE a/k/a “Capo”

10 years in prison

DEFENDANT

RESIDENCE

AGE

DAVID HOPE a/k/a “Capo”

Bronx, New York

28

KEMAR WILLIAMS

Brooklyn, New York

29

1 As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

2 The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

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