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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges Queens Music School Teacher With Sex Trafficking Of Minors

Joon Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Darcel D. Clark, the Bronx County District Attorney, Angel M. Melendez, Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (“HSI”), and James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced today the arrest of OLIVER SOHNGEN, a/k/a “Helmuth Moss,” a/k/a “Stephan Weierbach.”  SOHNGEN is charged with conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors, sex trafficking of minors, attempted sex trafficking of minors, and attempted inducement of minors to engage in sexual activity.  SOHNGEN was arrested this morning and presented today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel W. Gorenstein in Manhattan federal court.

Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “Oliver Sohngen, a music school teacher, allegedly engaged in disturbing, predatory conduct: preying on minor girls for sex. He allegedly had sexual contact with minor girls at least twice, and attempted to engage in sex trafficking of girls under the age of 14. Together with our partners at HSI, NYPD, and the Bronx District Attorney, we are committed to working to protect our most vulnerable victims, children, from sexual exploitation.”

Bronx District Attorney Darcel D. Clark said:  “This defendant came to the Bronx to allegedly engage in the dehumanizing treatment of girls ensnared in sex trafficking, even allegedly trying to arrange sexual encounters with girls as young as 8 years old.  We have a duty to protect our vulnerable youth, and with our partners in the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office, we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law anyone who supports this cruel exploitation.”

HSI Special Agent in Charge Angel M. Melendez said:  “It is unfathomable that Sohngen, who runs a music school, allegedly paid a pimp hundreds of dollars to arrange sexual encounters with underage girls. We at HSI remain committed to working together with our law enforcement partners to keep our children safe and ridding our neighborhoods of these dangerous sexual predators.”

Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill said:  “The trafficking of minors for the purpose of sex is a deeply disturbing and reprehensible crime.  We remain resolute in working along with our law enforcement partners to identify, apprehend, and prosecute those individuals who prey upon our most innocent victims. I commend the detectives and agents involved in this investigation and the US Attorney’s Office, Southern District for their efforts that resulted in these arrests.”

According to the allegations in the Complaint[1]:

Between March 2013 and November 2013, SOHNGEN exchanged text messages with a co-conspirator to arrange paid sexual encounters with minor girls ranging in age from 8 to 17.  On at least two occasions, SOHNGEN engaged in sexual contact with minor girls at the co-conspirator’s apartment in the Bronx, New York.  In addition, between November 2015 and January 2016, SOHNGEN participated in recorded telephone conversations with an undercover NYPD officer who was posing as a 15-year-old girl.  SOHNGEN proposed to meet with the purported 15-year-old girl in order to engage in sexual conduct.

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OHNGEN, 52, of Queens, New York, is charged with one count of conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking of minors, which carries a maximum term of life in prison, as well as two counts of sex trafficking of minors under the age of 18, each which carries a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison; three counts of attempted sex trafficking of minors under the age of 14, each of which carries a mandatory minimum term of 15 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison; and two counts of attempted inducement of minors under the age of 18 to engage in sexual activity, each of which carries a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Kim praised the outstanding investigative work of HSI and the NYPD, and expressed gratitude for the efforts of HSI’s New York Trafficking in Persons Unit and the NYPD’s Vice Enforcement Division Major Case Team.  Mr. Kim also expressed gratitude to the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office for its partnership in this investigation.   

This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Frank Balsamello and Michael Krouse are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Bronx County Assistant District Attorney Meagan Powers.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the description of the Complaint set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Childhood
Press Release Number: 
17-135
Updated May 16, 2017