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Press Release

Rochester Man Pleads Guilty In Plot To Murder A Witness In Sex Trafficking Case

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

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:          (716) 843-5817 
FAX:              (716) 551-3051

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Robert J. Palermo, 31, of Rochester, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci, Jr. to conspiracy to murder a witness. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 30 years iIn prison, a fine of $250,000 or both.  

Assistant U.S. Robert A. Marangola, who is handling the case, stated that Palermo, who was in jail on pending federal charges of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and sex trafficking of a minor, attempted to obtain a hitman to murder the 15 year-old female sex trafficking victim. Over the telephone and in letters, the defendant spoke to multiple individuals about his plot to have a hitman murder the victim in order to prevent her from testifying against him.

To bring the murder plot to fruition, Palermo provided the victim’s name, description and directions to an address as well as the phone number for a person outside of jail for the hitman to contact on behalf of Palermo. Law enforcement officers learned of the plot before any harm came to the victim. 

The conviction is the culmination of an investigation on the part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Cyber Crimes Task Force, which includes the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Ciminelli, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, under the direction of Sheriff Patrick O'Flynn, and Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero, and the Monroe County District Attorney's Office, under the direction of Sandra Doorley.

Sentencing is scheduled for May 14, 2015 at 4:00 p.m. before Judge Geraci, Jr.

Updated December 18, 2015

Human Trafficking