A bust of prostitution-based money laundering in the tri-state area—which resulted in 20 indictments being handed down—has ties to Westchester, Attorney General A.G. Schneiderman announced Tuesday.
The racket was toppled after 16 months of investigations led by the Organized Crime Task Force and New York Police Department, and resulted in the rescue of two human trafficking victims, officials said.
Using surveillance techniques and combing through tax documents, authorities learned Manhattan-based advertising company Somad Enterprises, Inc. was creating ads online and in print to promote prostitution for its clients, police said.
Somad and its associates would mask millions of dollars in prostitution charges as antique sales, cleaning services and other falsified purchases, police added. A spate of prostitutes, bookers, managers and drivers were in on the operation, according to a press release from Schneiderman.
"This investigation led to the arrests of multiple individuals who were part of a criminal enterprise that made millions of dollars by profiting off the exploitation of women," Schneiderman said.
A total of 19 people—hailing from New York to North Carolina to the Philippines—and one corporation, Somad, face indictments.
One of the accused, Fannie Hubbard, who goes by the alias Alex, is a 23-year-old Yonkers resident.
New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly noted some of Somad's advertising may be familiar.
"All anyone has to do is open a copy of The Village Voice to get a good sense of how classified advertising and prostitution go hand in hand, particularly in the prostituting of Asian women," he said. "Our focus remains the profiteers and johns engaged in promoting prostitution—not the women exploited by them."
"With law enforcement partners like Police Commissioner Kelly and the investigators at the NYPD and our other law enforcement partners we will continue to root out criminal networks like this prostitution and narcotics ring," Schneiderman added. "The message we are sending is clear: these crimes will not be tolerated in the State of New York."