New York man sentenced for sex trafficking of minors

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Edward Thomas, also known as “Fire,” 41, of New York, was sentenced this week by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in Hartford to 210 months of imprisonment, followed by 10 years of supervised release, for sex trafficking of minors. Thomas also was ordered to pay $28,700 in restitution.

According to the evidence introduced during his trial, in September 2012, Thomas, a New York-based pimp, answered an Internet prostitution advertisement for a 17-year-old girl (“MV1”) in Oregon. Over the next month, Thomas recruited and enticed MV1 to travel to New York to work for him, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

MV1 eventually agreed and traveled to New York with a second girl (“MV2”), who was 16 at the time, using bus tickets purchased by Thomas. Thomas discussed with both MV1 and MV2 that they would be prostituting for him in New York and Connecticut.

After MV1 and MV2 arrived in New York, Thomas and the two minor girls went immediately to a hotel in Milford, where they met Kayla Walters, Thomas’ co-defendant, and posted prostitution advertisements, the press release states. Thomas knew that MV1 and MV2 were under the age of 18, officials said.

In Milford, MV1 and MV2 saw customers for commercial sex acts at the direction of Thomas.  While MV2 escaped through a hotel room window after several hours, MV1 continued to work for Thomas for about a month, turning over all of the money she earned in prostitution to Thomas, according to the press release.

“When MV1 attempted to leave, Thomas forcibly restrained her,” the release states. “Ultimately, MV1 was recovered for the first time by the FBI and local police in Milford on November 8, 2012.  Law enforcement seized nearly $4,000 in cash from Thomas during the first recovery, along with several computers and cellular phones.”

Thomas recruited MV1 a second time in July 2013 and again paid for her travel from Oregon to the East Coast. After Thomas sent Walters and MV1 to Connecticut to make money for him, the FBI and local police again recovered MV1 from a hotel in Milford.

“For more than a decade, this defendant made his living from the commercial sexual exploitation of women, including young girls,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “He preyed on the vulnerabilities of two girls whom he lured across the country thousands of miles away from their families. This cruel victimization of defenseless young women – a form of modern day slavery – will not be tolerated. Prosecuting these offenses is a top priority for the Department of Justice.  This significant sentence will protect society and future victims from this defendant, and sends a clear message that those who sexually exploit minors will be held accountable. We thank the FBI and the Milford and Stratford Police Departments for their excellent work in this investigation. We will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to rescue girls and young women from brutal environments and prosecute those who profit from this reprehensible and illegal conduct.”

Thomas and Walters have been detained since their arrests on February 28, 2014.

On January 26, 2015, a jury found Thomas guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor and two counts of sex trafficking of a minor.

Thomas’s criminal history includes a 2007 conviction in New Jersey for promoting prostitution with a child under the age of 18.

On November 10, 2014, Walters pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of a minor. Her sentencing is scheduled for November 30, 2015.

This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Connecticut Child Exploitation Task Force, which includes federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.  The Stratford and Milford Police Departments assisted the investigation.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David E. Novick and Sarala V. Nagala.