NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A Pennsylvania father and son who were acquitted of sex trafficking after several prostitutes testified for the defense will still spend time in prison for promoting prostitution and money laundering.
Self-professed pimps Vincent George Sr. and Vincent George Jr., of Allentown, Pa., were sentenced Monday in Manhattan to three to nine years in prison.
The prostitutes said they considered themselves to be one big family, and defense attorneys called them “happy hookers.”
Prosecutors said the women were too traumatized to admit they’d been abused, and the two men laundered millions of dollars through music recording and car service businesses.
They alleged that the prostitutes made as much as $500,000 a year for the Georges but got only a few dollars a night themselves and had no bank accounts or property. The prostitutes were threatened with beatings when they didn’t bring in as much money as expected or were late to check in, according to wiretap conversations played at trial.
The women painted a different picture, saying they were treated to nice cars, vacations in Florida and affection from their pimps. Some lived together as “family” in a house in Allentown, Pa., about 90 miles from New York, and drove in to the city at night to turn tricks for $300, they said.
One witness, Heather Keith, has George Jr.’s nickname, King Koby, tattooed on her neck. She testified she was a drug-addicted 19-year-old stripper from upstate. She said he moved her to Allentown and helped her beat a cocaine habit.
“I would say that I make my own choices,” said Keith, now 26. “I am not a dumb person. I know what I’m doing.”
Another witness, 24-year-old Desiree Ellis, dismissed allegations that George Jr. abused her, calling him a “teddy bear.”
She said she once thought about leaving him. But at a bus station, she changed her mind and asked if she could come back to their “family.” He welcomed her with open arms.
“We kissed,” she testified. “We made up. We had a love session.”
Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance released a statement following the verdict last month.
“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.
The defense attorney had previously announced plans to appeal the convictions.
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