FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 6, 2019
Flatbush Man Indicted for Sex Trafficking of Two Teenage Girls
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 arraigned on a 10-count indictment in which he is charged with sex trafficking of a child, promoting prostitution and related charges for the alleged sex trafficking of two teens, ages 15 and 17.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “We allege that this defendant took advantage of two vulnerable young girls, trafficking them for money in exchange for sex. I am committed to rescuing and protecting our at-risk children and teens from predators who seek to abuse and exploit them.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Hakeem Bennett, 24, of Flatbush, Brooklyn. He was arraigned today before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun on an indictment in which he is charged with two counts of sex trafficking of a child, two counts of attempted sex trafficking of a child, two counts of second- and fourth-degree promoting prostitution, one count of third-degree promoting prostitution and one count of endangering the welfare of a child. He faces up to 50 years in prison and would be required to register as a sex offender if convicted of the top count. He was ordered held on $250,000 bail and to return to court on January 8, 2020.
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, it is alleged, 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, it is alleged, he was met by a different female, a 15-year-old, who brought him to a house where he met with the defendant and the 17-year-old and another, unidentified woman. The undercover and the defendant allegedly agreed that the defendant 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, it is alleged that 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, it is alleged, the defendant had the customers send the money directly to him via payments apps.
The case was investigated by Detective Joseph Spataro of the New York City Police Department, Brooklyn North Vice Module, under the supervision of Lieutenant Amy Campogna, and in coordination with Detective Elizabeth Gonzalez of the NYPD’s Human Trafficking Team, under the supervision of Lieutenant Christopher Sharpe, Sergeant Faoud Zahirudin and Captain Thomas Milano and under the overall supervision of Inspector James Klein, Commanding Officer of the Vice Enforcement Division.
Senior Intelligence Analyst Brooke Middleton, of the District Attorney’s Crime Strategies Unit, KCDA Forensic Analyst Sourov Talukder and Assistant District Attorney Sherman Jones, of the District Attorney’s Human Trafficking Unit, assisted in the investigation.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Anna Federico, of the 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.
An indictment is an accusatory instrument and not proof of a defendant’s guilt