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Press Release

Individual Charged With Sex-Trafficking of Women on Pennsylvania Avenue in Brooklyn Known as the “Penn Track,” and Enticement Of A Minor

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
Defendant Allegedly Threatened to Kill and Assaulted Victims to Force Them to Work in Commercial Sex

BROOKLYN, NY - Earlier today, an indictment was unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn charging Joel David Forney, also known as “Sirbar,” with three counts of sex trafficking, Mann Act transportation for purposes of commercial sex and coercion and enticement of a minor.  The charges in the indictment arise from the defendant’s trafficking of women to work as prostitutes in New York, including along an open-air sex trafficking market on a stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue in Brooklyn, New York known as the Penn Track, as well as the defendant’s alleged transportation of women from New York to multiple other states, including Connecticut and Missouri, with the intent that they engage in commercial sex for his financial benefit. The charges also arise from the defendant’s alleged rape of a teenage girl in 2014.  Forney was arrested this morning in Kissimmee, Florida and is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon in the Middle District of Florida.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Kristen M. Clarke, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Justice Department, and James Smith, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), announced the arrest and charges.

“As alleged, the defendant raped a minor, and preyed on vulnerable women to sell their bodies for his own profit, while subjecting them to constant acts and threats of violence,” stated United States Attorney Peace.  “With today’s arrest, this Office seeks to hold Forney accountable for his cruel and depraved crimes.  We will continue working with our law enforcement partners to eradicate the degradation of women forced into sex work at the Penn Track and elsewhere in the district.”

Mr. Peace expressed his thanks to the New York City Police Department/FBI Child Exploitation Human Trafficking Task Force for their outstanding investigative work on the case. 

“These charges represent the darkest side of the criminal world. Not only did Joel Forney allegedly force several victims into commercial sex trafficking through repeated violence and death threats, but he also allegedly raped a female minor victim after luring her into his residence. Today’s arrest affirms the FBI’s promise to investigate those who commit such heinous crimes, and ensure they are brought to justice,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Smith.

As alleged in court filings, between at least the summer of 2016 and continuing through at least 2022, Forney trafficked women to engage in commercial sex in Brooklyn, New York and in other states through force, fraud and coercion for his financial benefit.  The defendant trafficked his victims both in hotel rooms and on Pennsylvania Avenue in East New York, Brooklyn, a notorious location for commercial sex known as the Penn Track.  The defendant subjected the victims to his total control and forced them to adhere to a list of rules designed to maximize his profits and minimize their resistance. When his victims disobeyed his directives, he used physical violence, and sometimes death threats, as a form of punishment.

Forney allegedly began trafficking Jane Doe #1 in the summer of 2016, when he lured her to travel from her home in Wisconsin to New York City with false promises of a legitimate job offer.  When Jane Doe #1 arrived, he brought her to a hotel where he raped her and threatened her with violence.  He then photographed her and posted advertisements on the internet using her photo to promote commercial sex.  For the next several months, the defendant trafficked Jane Doe #1, bringing her to hotels in New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and other locations, where he compelled her to engage in commercial sex.  The defendant retained the majority of the proceeds of her commercial sex work.  If Jane Doe #1 failed to earn enough money or acted in a way that he viewed as disrespectful, he would slap, punch, or sexually assault her.  He routinely threatened to kill Jane Doe #1. On one occasion, he showed Jane Doe #1 a photograph on his phone of a dismembered woman and told her that “this is what happens to bi-----s who leave their pimps.” 

Forney began trafficking Jane Doe #2 in October 2017 at the Penn Track and in other states where he forced her to perform commercial sex for his financial benefit.  As was the case with Jane Doe #1, Forney kept the majority of the financial proceeds of Jane Doe #2’s work. Forney would beat her if she violated his rules. On one occasion, angered by Jane Doe #2’s perceived disobedience, Forney punched her in the face, breaking her front tooth. 

Forney trafficked a third victim, Jane Doe #3, beginning in May 2017.  As with Jane Doe #2, the defendant compelled Jane Doe #3 to work in commercial sex largely on the Penn Track, and kept most of her earnings.  Like all the women the defendant trafficked, Jane Doe #3 was instructed to strictly adhere to the defendant’s rules, and any acts of disobedience were met with violence and threats. 

In addition to sex trafficking, Forney also engaged in sexually predatory conduct directed at a minor.  Specifically, in June 2014, when Forney was 31-years-old, he encountered Jane Doe #4, who was then 14 years-old, walking home in Queens.  He told her she was pretty; she told him her age.  After exchanging contact information, the defendant continued to communicate with the girl—regularly telling her she was beautiful—before inviting her to his home where he raped her. 

The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.  If convicted, Forney faces a minimum term of 15 years in prison, and up to life imprisonment.

If you are a victim of trafficking—whether by Forney or someone else—and have information to provide, please contact the FBI, which is prepared to help you regardless of your immigration status, at or call 1-800-CALL-FBI.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Civil Rights Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Lauren Elbert and Antoinette N. Rangel and Trial Attorney Leah Branch of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit are in charge of the prosecution.

The Defendant:

JOEL DAVID FORNEY (also known as “Sirbar”)
Age:  41
, Florida

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 24-CR-146 (KAM)


John Marzulli
Danielle Blustein Hass
United States Attorney's Office
(718) 254-6323

Updated April 19, 2024

Civil Rights
Human Trafficking
Violent Crime