NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A father-son duo of self-described pimps were found not guilty of sex trafficking in Manhattan Supreme Court Wednesday but could still face jail time for lesser charges.
Vincent George Jr. and Sr. were acquitted of the top charge against them, narrowly escaping a tough new statute.
As WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported, the younger George pumped his fist in the air and two of the prostitutes who testified in defense of the father and son pimps smiled with relief.
The men’s relatives screamed “praise the lord” when the judge found the two men not guilty of the top count of sex trafficking.
It was the Manhattan District Attorney’s first try at getting a conviction under the tough new statute which carries a 25-year prison sentence.
The DA had planned to hold a news conference after the judge’s verdict, but canceled it when the prosecutors lost the top count.
George Jr. and Sr. were convicted of money laundering and promoting prostitution and still face significant jail time.
But based on the women’s’ testimony that they lived together as one big, happy family, the judge could not find that the women were coerced and kept in the sex trade through fear and against their will, Cornell reported.
Prosecutors had argued at the nonjury trial that the women were too traumatized to admit they’d been abused.
Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance released a statement following the verdict.
“Pimps are criminals. For too long, these defendants had free reign over women’s lives and bodies, but, for these pimps, this story should have no fairytale ending,” said the DA. “The goal of this prosecution was to dismantle a profitable criminal enterprise from the top down, addressing both supply and demand. The felony convictions today achieve that goal.”
The younger George, 35, was convicted of one count of promoting prostitution and three counts of money laundering. His father, 56, was convicted of one count each of promoting prostitution and money laundering.
“This father-and-son team was convicted of running a large-scale operation in which they transported women to Manhattan for the purpose of prostituting them. They made significant profits from this illegal operation, which were concealed in part by laundering the money through an entertainment company,” Vance added.
Defense attorneys called the mixed verdict a victory. They said they would appeal the convictions.
The loving relationship between pimps and prostitutes “was vindicated,” David Epstein, the son’s attorney, said outside court. “It’s a moral victory as well as a legal one.”
The Georges will be sentenced on July 8.
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