Prostitution plea linked to Gilgo case
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A Brooklyn man linked to one of the women found dead in the Gilgo Beach area pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges that he transported her to Long Island for prostitution.
Akeem Cruz, 22, admitted to Magistrate Judge Cheryl L. Pollak in federal court in Brooklyn that he took two women from Maine to Long Island several times from March 2009 until August 2010 to meet clients at local hotels.
Waterman was reported missing in June 2010 and her body found that December along with the remains of three other prostitutes in thick brush along Ocean Parkway in the Gilgo Beach area. The bodies were wrapped in burlap.
A total of 10 sets of human remains have been found in connection with the Gilgo investigation. No arrests have been made.
According to a superseding indictment filed earlier in the case, officials said that Cruz and co-defendant Robert Blake posted ads on the Internet, including on Craigslist.com, to sell the sexual services of several women.
Cruz, who also goes by "Vybe" and "Mello," pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Mann Act, a federal law that prohibits transporting people across state lines for prostitution. He didn't admit in court to any involvement in Waterman's disappearance.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Licha M. Nyiendo said Cruz faces a sentence of 37 months to 46 months under federal guidelines. There is also a potential fine of $250,000. No sentencing date was set. Cruz was taken into federal custody last year while he was being held on a drug case in Maine and is in a federal jail without bail.
His defense attorney, Susan Kellman, couldn't be reached for comment.
Waterman's mother, Lorraine Ela, was heartened by the news.
"I am glad he has been charged. He is the one who got her into it. He was the one who took her to New York and he was the last one to see her alive," Ela said Wednesday.
Blake is expected to go to trial later this year on sex trafficking and Mann Act charges. In the original criminal complaint filed against him in February 2011, FBI agents said that in August 2010 he had a woman and her 18-month-old child flown from Maine to New York. Blake then allegedly threatened the woman to force her to work as a prostitute at the JFK Inn near Kennedy Airport, according to the complaint.
Blake also took the woman shopping for sexy lingerie and shoes, then threatened her with potential loss of access to her child if she didn't repay him $1,000, according to the complaint.