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Press Release

Passaic County Man Sentenced To 78 Months In Prison For Role As Brothel Leader

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – A Passaic County, New Jersey, man was sentenced today to 78 months in prison for his role as the leader of a statewide brothel ring that harbored illegal aliens and transported women across state lines for prostitution, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Juan Fredy Hernandez-Zozaya, 41, of Passaic, New Jersey, was convicted on Jan. 15, 2019, following a one-week trial for conspiracy to commit interstate transport for purposes of prostitution, and conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens. U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler presided over the trial and imposed today’s sentence. The 78-month prison term was ordered to run consecutive to a 56-year state sentence Hernandez-Zozaya had previously received for state murder charges, and included a three-year term of supervised release.

According to documents filed in this case, evidence at trial, and statements made in court:

From at least March 2011 through September 2014, Hernandez-Zozaya served as the leader of a large-scale prostitution ring that operated throughout New Jersey, including at brothel locations in New Brunswick, Trenton, Orange, Asbury Park, Lakewood, and Bridgeton. Hernandez-Zozaya and his girlfriend, Elizabeth Rojas-Rojas, employed dozens of women and other workers to run the brothels, the large majority of whom were in the country illegally.

The conspiracy also involved at least three murders committed at Hernandez-Zozaya’s behest by “enforcers” for the prostitution business that were hired and managed by Hernandez-Zozaya. One such enforcer, Wilmer Chavez Romero, was previously convicted by a jury of multiple counts of racketeering, assault, firearms offenses, and murder in aid of Hernandez-Zozaya’s enterprise. Chavez Romero was sentenced on March 27, 2019, by U.S. District Court Judge William H. Walls to life in prison. Hernandez-Zozaya was himself previously convicted in Cumberland County Superior Court of committing two murders related to the brothel enterprise. In imposing the sentence, Judge Chesler noted these related acts of violence, as well as Hernandez-Zozaya’s “horrendous” conduct in employing and exploiting those women who, as a result of their immigration status, had little choice but to work at the brothels.

U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian Michael in Newark with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. He also thanked the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office, Trenton Police Department, Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, and the N.J. State Police Ballistics Lab, for their roles in the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Meredith Williams and Melissa Wangenheim of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Newark.

Defense counsel: Anthony Iacullo Esq., Nutley, New Jersey, and Kelley Sharkey Esq., Brooklyn, New York

Updated June 19, 2019

Press Release Number: 19-179