WASHINGTON — An Orlando, Fla., woman pleaded guilty to forcing a Russian woman to work against her will as a prostitute, the Justice Department announced today.
Yelena Telichenko faces a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine, and restitution payments for human trafficking charges. The victim and Telichenko met in Philadelphia where Telichenko persuaded the victim to move to Orlando and engage in prostitution in order to earn money. Telichenko kept the victim in prostitution by repeatedly and brutally beating her whenever she objected.
“Never in America should a woman be forced to prostitute herself,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “All too often, the victims in these types of cases have limited resources and a limited understanding of our language and culture. Through these types of prosecutions, the Civil Rights Division continues its longstanding commitment to protecting some of the most vulnerable members of our society.”
“The traffickers we prosecute are the most cynical of criminals; they profit from their countryman’s hopes and dream of a better life in this country. They take that hope and twist it into something evil and ugly,” said Paul I. Perez, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida.
The prosecution of individuals involved in human trafficking is a top priority of the Justice Department. In the last six fiscal years, the Civil Rights Division, in conjunction with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, has increased by six-fold the number of human trafficking cases filed in court, compared to the previous six years.
The case was investigated by special agents of the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The case is being jointly prosecuted by attorneys from the Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida.