A Manhattan man was found guilty on Wednesday of operating a sex trafficking and prostitution ring — which included a 15-year-old girl — during Super Bowl weekend in 2014.
Damon Hayes, 45, is being charged with sex trafficking, promoting prostitution and endangering the welfare of a child.
According to prosecutors, in January of 2014 Hayes — who was a Manhattan resident — recruited two women and a teenage girl from Florida to work for him as prostitutes in Midtown Manhattan. Out of the three were 41-year-old Yolonda Ostoloza and her 15-year-old daughter.
On Jan. 27, 2014, Hayes flew to Florida to meet with the women, and paid for plane tickets for them to fly to New York the next day, authorities said. Hayes then posted ads with their photos on Backpage.com, and arranged for them to meet with clients. The women were required to hand over all of the money they earned.
Hayes also forced the 15-year-old girl to engage in prostitution and would threaten her with physical violence if she did not meet with the client he chose, prosecutors said.
One client turned out to be an undercover NYPD officer and four months later, Hayes was arrested following an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Human Trafficking Response Unit and the NYPD.
“The Super Bowl should not be used as an opportunity to promote illegal sex tourism,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. “Damon Hayes was convicted of exploiting a 15-year-old girl — shockingly, with the help of her own mother — and forcing her to earn him money through his trafficking ring. Yet, once again, we see how New York State’s sex trafficking laws hamper these prosecutions, and do not adequately protect children from being sold for sex.
The young girl’s mother was also convicted on charges of promoting prostitution and endangering the welfare of a child for helping to prostitute her daughter. Ostoloza was sentenced to one to three years in state prison.
Hayes is expected to be sentenced on Feb. 16.
In an unrelated case, another Manhattan man was convicted on Wednesday of assault, promoting prostitution and endangering the welfare of a child. According to prosecutors, Sherman Gamble had been operating a prostituon ring from his Kips Bay apartment — which he shared with his 9-year-old grandson — and where he assaulted one of the women who worked in the ring. Gamble will be sentenced on Feb. 9.