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A Flushing couple have been indicted by a grand jury Court on sex trafficking charges and other crimes for allegedly bringing two women from Korea and coercing them to have sex with strangers for cash, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.
Jung Ja Ornstein, 62, and Eric Ornstein, 49, were arraigned before Queens Supreme Court Justice Peter Vallone on an 18-count indictment charging them with sex trafficking and promoting prostitution.
According to the charges, in 2015, one of the victims read an advertisement in Korea that stated she could make money in America. The victim called the listed phone number and was told she would be working in a bar/restaurant but must pay back $10,000 for the transportation and assistance in obtaining a passport. When the woman arrived at JFK Airport, she was met by defendant Jung Ja Ornstein, who took the victim to an address on Steinway Street in Long Island City and informed her that to pay off her debt she would be engaging in prostitution.
Jung Ja Ornstein then allegedly took the woman’s passport and gave it to defendant Eric Ornstein. According to the charges, the victim had sex with strangers for money at that location. These customers were allegedly arranged by defendant Eric Ornstein.
Defendant Jung Ja Ornstein allegedly collected the money from the customers, and defendant Eric Ornstein would come to the location regularly to pick up the money from his partner.
In March, the defendants told the victim that they would be relocating and returned her passport and left her alone, according to the charges.
The investigation revealed that in 2001, another victim responded to a similar advertisement in Korea, according to the charges. This woman met with a man and a woman in Korea and they assisted her in obtaining a passport and made travel arrangements for her. The victim was also told she would have to pay back $10,000 for her travel, but it would be taken out of her earnings. After arriving in the United States, the victim was taken to a bar in Manhattan, where her passport was taken from her and she was forced to work.
While working at the bar, the victim was allowed to keep her tips but had to pay for room and board. On tips alone, it was a struggle to pay the $10,000 due for her travel, charges state. After about a year, the victim’s bill was purchased by another woman who made the victim work at a massage parlor. Eventually, she was forced to work for the defendants who took her to the Steinway Street location and she, too, was allegedly forced to trade sex for cash. Jung Ja Ornstein again allegedly collected the money from the customers, who were arranged by Eric Ornstein.
There were various times when the woman wanted to leave and each time she was allegedly threatened by Jung Ja Ornstein who, according to the complaint, allegedly told the victim, “You have to work, you owe money. You think I won’t find you?” The victim feared for her safety, as Eric Ornstein would yell and break things when he was angry at the victim for not earning enough money, and was often seen carrying a metal pipe.
“I created the Human Trafficking Bureau in the DA’s office to combat this very problem,” Katz said. “These two defendants are accused of purposely bringing two women to Queens from Korea and forcing them into the sex trade industry. The two are in custody and charged accordingly.”
Justice Vallone ordered the two defendants to return to court March 12. If convicted, they each face up to 25 years in prison.