The pimp who ushered Gilgo Beach victim Megan Waterman to her last meeting with a sex customer prior to disappearing was sentenced to 3 years in prison Friday for federal prostitution offenses.
U.S. District Judge Edward Korman said that Akeem Cruz, 23, of Brooklyn, deserved to get more than the 18-24-month range called for by sentencing guidelines and Brooklyn federal prosecutors, even though he was not charged with having anything to do with Waterman's killing.
"He's not responsible for the murder, but he put her in the zone of danger," Korman said. "I don't think a sentence of 24 months is high enough to deter others or to reflect the seriousness of the offense."
Cruz was accused of transporting Waterman, also his girlfriend, to a Hauppauge motel in June 2010 for an act of prostitution. Authorities have said that he spoke to her on his cellphone around 1:30 a.m. on June 6, and security videos at the motel showed her leaving at that time.
The body of Waterman, 22, of Scarborough, Maine, was subsequently discovered along a desolate stretch of Gilgo Beach on Dec. 13, 2010. Ten sets of human remains have been found in the area, including those of at least four other prostitutes.
Officials believe Waterman and other prostitutes were murdered by a serial killer, but no one has been charged.
Cruz, imprisoned since last January on charges of interstate transportation of Waterman and another woman for the purpose of prostitution, expressed remorse and said he had lost a person he loved.
"I want to send my regrets and condolences to the deceased's family," he told Korman. ". . . I'm sorry. I truly am sorry. I've got to live the rest of my life with this regret."
Letters from Waterman's mother and her aunt, who is caring for the deceased woman's child, urged Korman to impose a harsh sentence. The mother, Lorraine Ela, said Cruz had never helped investigators in the probe and had also used violence toward her daughter.
Cruz has denied abusing Waterman and prosecutors said there is no proof of it. After the sentencing, Ela said she was "kind of" pleased with Korman's refusal to go along with 2 years, but ambivalent.
"In my opinion he [Cruz] is an accessory to my daughter's murder," she said in a telephone interview. "In three years, he will be walking the street, and my daughter will never be walking the street again. Am I satisfied with the sentence? No. But will I take it? Yes."