D.A. Vance Announces Trial Conviction of Three Men For Coordinated, Targeted Sexual Assaults


June 8, 2018

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the trial conviction of FERNANDO SANDEL, 29, ISAIAS RIVERA, 34, AND JOEY CRUZ, 29, for conspiring to rape and rob three prostituted women. The defendants were convicted by a New York State Supreme Court jury of all of the charges against them, including Predatory Sexual Assault, Rape, Burglary, and Robbery, among other charges, as well as conspiring together to commit those crimes. They are expected to be sentenced on September 13, 2018.

“These defendants deliberately targeted vulnerable, prostituted women because they thought these women would not go to law enforcement for help – and that even if they did, no one would believe them,” said District Attorney Vance. “They were wrong. These brave survivors did go to law enforcement. We believed them, and the jury believed them. And now these predators stand convicted of dozens of the most serious sex crimes offenses under New York State law.

“If you or someone you know has been a victim of a sex crime, I urge you to call our Sex Crimes hotline at 212-335-9373. We are here to help you and we will help you, regardless of your immigration status or what language you speak.”

As proven at trial, beginning in April 2015, SANDEL, RIVERA, and CRUZ conspired to rape and rob at least three women in Manhattan and the Bronx, specifically targeting Asian women. The defendants contacted women advertising sexual services on sites such as Backpage.com, and arranged to meet them in apartments or hotel rooms.

On August 3, 2015, SANDEL, RIVERA, and CRUZ contacted a woman through her Backpage.com advertisement and met her in a Midtown hotel room, where they sprayed her in the face with mace and bound her wrists and ankles with zip ties before repeatedly sexually assaulting her. The three defendants similarly attacked another woman whom they met online in a Gramercy apartment the next day, spraying her in the face with mace and binding her wrists and ankles before sexually assaulting her.

In an earlier incident on June 28, 2015, SANDEL and CRUZ targeted a third woman through her online advertisement, and sexually assaulted her on the roof of a Bronx apartment building after spraying her in the face with mace.

The defendants stole property from each woman, including the purses of two victims.

Assistant D.A. Carolina Holderness, Chief of the Human Trafficking Response Unit, handled the prosecution of this case with Assistant D.A. Justin McNabney under the supervision of Assistant D.A. Martha Bashford, Chief of the Sex Crimes Unit, and Executive Assistant D.A. Audrey Moore, Chief of the Special Victims Bureau. Former Investigative Analyst Rachel Kroll, Investigative Analyst Naomi Schmidt, Special Victims Social Worker Melissa Martinez, and Investigator Alan Sandomir assisted with the case.

District Attorney Vance thanked NYPD Detectives Jerald Rivera and Joshua Ulan of the Manhattan Special Victims Squad, and Detective Harris Goldner of the Bronx Special Victims Squad.

Defendant Information:

FERNANDO SANDEL, D.O.B. 9/22/1988
Bronx, NY

Convicted:

  • Predatory Sexual Assault, a class A felony, 13 counts
  • Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a class B felony, 1 count
  • Rape in the First Degree, a class B felony, 6 counts
  • Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree, a class B felony, 2 counts
  • Burglary in the First Degree as a Sexually Motivated Felony, a class B felony, 5 counts
  • Robbery in the First Degree, a class B felony, 4 counts
  • Robbery in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 6 counts
  • Strangulation in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts
  • Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts
  • Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count

ISAIAS RIVERA, D.O.B. 10/14/1983
Bronx, NY

Convicted:

  • Predatory Sexual Assault, a class A felony, 7 counts
  • Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a class B felony, 1 count
  • Rape in the First Degree, a class B felony, 4 counts
  • Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree, a class B felony, 1 count
  • Burglary in the First Degree as a Sexually Motivated Felony, a class B felony, 5 counts
  • Robbery in the First Degree, a class B felony, 3 counts
  • Robbery in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 4 counts
  • Strangulation in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 1 count
  • Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts
  • Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a class E felony, 1 count

JOEY CRUZ, D.O.B. 3/27/1989
Bronx, NY

Convicted:

  • Predatory Sexual Assault, a class A felony, 13 counts
  • Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a class B felony, 1 count
  • Rape in the First Degree, a class B felony, 6 counts
  • Criminal Sexual Act in the First Degree, a class B felony, 2 counts
  • Burglary in the First Degree as a Sexually Motivated Felony, a class B felony, 5 counts
  • Robbery in the First Degree, a class B felony, 4 counts
  • Robbery in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 6 counts
  • Strangulation in the Second Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts
  • Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts
  • Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a class E felony, 1 count