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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

Monday, September 23, 2013

Pound Ridge Man Sentenced To Eleven Years For Luring Young Foreign Women To His Home For Sex Crimes

Earlier today, Joseph Yannai, author of The International Who’s Who of Cooks (2004-2005), was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 11 years following his conviction after trial for enticing women to travel to the United States from abroad so that he could commit sex crimes against them, forced labor, and several immigration crimes.  The proceeding was held before Senior United States District Judge Edward R. Korman at the United States Courthouse in Brooklyn, New York.

The sentence was announced by Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, James T. Hayes, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York, and Janet DiFiore, Westchester County District Attorney.  The case was jointly investigated with the New York State Police Department and Pound Ridge Police Department.

The government’s evidence at trial established that between January 2003 and March 2009, Yannai searched au pair websites for young women from around the world to recruit to work in his home, which he shared with his wife.  Yannai told the women that the work involved domestic services and clerical assistance.  Yannai, however, used deception and fraud in recruiting the victims, even posing as two different women, “Joanna” and “Sylvia,” who had supposedly worked for Yannai before and who extolled Yannai’s virtues in email exchanges with the victims.  In these fake emails, which were intended to allay the victims’ reservations about working for the defendant, “Joanna” and “Sylvia,” among other things, reassured the victims that Yannai had no intention of having sex with them.

As the evidence at trial showed, however, once the victims, five of whom testified at trial, arrived at Yannai’s Pound Ridge home, he subjected them to near-constant sexual abuse, which included groping the victims’ breasts and buttocks, digitally penetrating them, and attempting to force them to perform oral sex on him.  Yannai sought to ensure the victims’ compliance with his increasingly more sexually abusive demands through fear, isolation, psychological coercion, and other means.  Some of the victims were able to escape shortly after they arrived; others could not escape for months.  Yannai was arrested after one of the victims escaped and went to a local police precinct.  In addition to the five victims who testified at trial, the government’s investigation revealed that Yannai had victimized six other women, and, during the course of his scheme, had attempted to contact approximately 1,500 women worldwide.

“Yannai used the Internet to lure young women from around the world into his home to sexually abuse them, even using alter egos to manipulate them into coming to the U.S.  Once they were in this country, alone and without friends and family, he exploited their fears to keep them trapped in his home.  Yannai’s other personas were no help to him today, as he stands revealed for what he is, a predator who used and abused defenseless young women.  Today the defendant has been held to account for his victimization of numerous women throughout the world,” stated United States Attorney Lynch.  “This office will continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute these crimes to the full extent of the law.”

“Today’s sentencing begins the healing process for these victims that were so unjustly targeted for sex crimes and forced labor through fraud and false promises,” said HSI Special Agent-in-Charge Hayes.  “The sentencing of this man is a stern warning to individuals who target innocent women for sexual abuse: You will be found and brought to justice.”

Westchester County District Attorney DiFiore stated, “This defendant used the Internet to engage in a long running coercive campaign to lure numerous young European and South American women for a purported job as a personal assistant.  In reality, he was like the proverbial fox entering the chicken coop where he controlled, psychologically manipulated and sexually abused these women, leaving them trapped and victimized.”

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Daniel Spector and Hilary Jager, and Special Assistant United States Attorney Audrey Stone, Second Deputy District Attorney and Chief of the Special Prosecutions Division, Westchester County District Attorney’s Office.

The Defendant

Age: 66

Updated July 2, 2015