FBI wants laptop from man linked to victim
The federal government wants to search the contents of a laptop computer that belonged to Akeem Malik Cruz, the Brooklyn man authorities named as the pimp of one of four women found dead in December near Gilgo Beach.
FBI Special Agent Johanna Esposito on Thursday filed an 11-page affidavit in federal court in Brooklyn seeking approval to search Cruz's Toshiba Satellite laptop for evidence of his involvement in the sex-trafficking trade.
The computer is in possession of the Suffolk County Police Department, the affidavit says.
A law enforcement source said yesterday that the search-warrant request was part of a federal investigation into human trafficking that is distinct from the Gilgo Beach slaying case. It was not known whether any information found in a search of the laptop would become part of the Gilgo Beach probe, the source said.
Cruz, 21, of Brooklyn, who the affidavit says also is known as "Vybe" and "Mello," is in jail in Maine on drug charges unrelated to the investigation into the death of Megan Waterman, 21, of Scarborough, Maine. He has not been charged in relation to prostitution.
Cruz is one of the last people known to have seen Waterman alive, police have said. Waterman was working as an escort and traveled to Long Island with Cruz, whom Waterman's relatives and friends have described as her boyfriend and pimp, after placing an escort ad on Craigslist.
The laptop was given to authorities by a person who told them of having lived with Cruz, the affidavit says. That person, whose gender is unclear in the affidavit, told authorities of obtaining the laptop from a woman who was friendly with Cruz sometime after Cruz's October arrest on drug charges, and voluntarily turned it over to Suffolk County police detectives on Feb. 22, the document states.
The FBI wants to know whether the computer contains photographs of women who worked as prostitutes; advertisements for prostitution services; contact names and telephone numbers of pimps, and "victims who were forced into or participated in prostitution;" and communications and contact names and numbers relating to drug sales, the affidavit says.
The affidavit outlines a timeline for movements of a woman, referred to as "Female-1" from Maine, who worked as a prostitute for Cruz that are similar to the last known activities of Waterman.
A search of Craigslist turned up several ads under an "Erotic Services/Adult Entertainment" section that were posted by an "Akeem Cruz" and advertised sexual services from various women, the affidavit states. The affidavit cites three specific Craigslist ads, each of which listed the same cellular phone number with a Maine area code.
One of the ads, dated Jan. 17, 2010, states: "Hey fellas im lexxy. Im back in town and looking for someone to keep me company. you better hurry, it might be too late. time is never rushed. xoxoxo." That ad indicated the location of the woman was in Woodbury.
Robert Napolitano, Cruz's attorney in Portland, Maine, said Saturday that he didn't know anything about the application for a search warrant.
Waterman's mother, Lorraine Ela, said in a telephone interview from her South Portland home that she was encouraged to hear about the FBI's action.
The bodies of Waterman and the three other women, some badly decomposed, were discovered wrapped in burlap. Suffolk police have said all the women had used Craigslist or other websites to post ads as escorts.
Each one - Waterman; Melissa Barthelemy, 24, of the Bronx; Maureen Brainard-Barnes, 25, of Norwich, Conn.; and Amber Lynn Costello, 27, of North Babylon - had a rendezvous planned the night she went missing, police said.
With Emily C. Dooley
and Andrew Strickler