Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the trial conviction of KARMIK GRANT-BYAS, 32, for running a sex trafficking ring between May 2012 and November 2013, and forcibly trafficking two women over the course of the operation. A New York State Supreme Court jury found the defendant guilty of two counts of Sex Trafficking and one count of Promoting Prostitution in the Third Degree. GRANT-BYAS is expected to be sentenced on February 26, 2016.
“With this verdict, the jury sent a strong message: those who use violence and threats of violence to exploit women’s bodies for their own profit are not merely pimps, but sex traffickers,” said District Attorney Vance. “Like many traffickers, Karmik Grant-Byas is a skilled manipulator who convinced his victims he loved and cared for them, while viciously coercing them to do his bidding. He compelled young women whom he controlled to hand over every dollar they made by keeping them fearful and under constant threat of physical violence.
“Each night, Karmik Grant-Byas sent his victims to Manhattan to perform extremely dangerous work, while sitting safely at home in New Jersey. And each morning, upon their return, he demanded all of their earnings and beat them if any of his rules had been broken. My Office’s Human Trafficking Response Unit will continue to investigate and prosecute these vile criminal enterprises.”
As proven at trial, beginning in May 2012, GRANT-BYAS operated a sex trafficking ring headquartered in his New Jersey home, forcibly trafficking two women until his arrest in November 2013. GRANT-BYAS recruited four women, all from out of state and ranging in age from 18-to-22-years-old, through the use of text messages and social media, and paid for their plane tickets to New York City. GRANT-BYAS sent the victims into Manhattan nearly every night, primarily to Midtown hotels, bars, and restaurants, where they would perform commercial sexual services for his profit under threat of physical violence. GRANT-BYAS required that the women hand over all of the money they made. If they refused, or broke any of his rules, the defendant would emotionally and physically abuse the women, including repeated beatings and other acts of violence.
In one instance in July 2012, the defendant repeatedly burned a victim’s arm with a flat iron hair straightening tool. The burns were visible when the victim was arrested for prostitution days later, and an NYPD officer flagged her as a potential victim of sex trafficking. Working with the NYPD, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Human Trafficking Response Unit (HTRU) obtained court-authorized wiretaps for the defendant and victims’ phones, leading to this investigation and prosecution.
Housed within the Office’s Special Victims Bureau in the Manhattan Family Justice Center, HTRU investigates and prosecutes sex and labor trafficking cases, and provides support for victims and their families in partnership with advocacy groups. The Unit also works to identify victims in cases that may involve elements of trafficking from the hundreds of street arrests that are screened and prosecuted by other areas of the Office, including the Domestic Violence Unit. HTRU builds upon long-term investigative techniques – including wiretaps and forensic analytics – that make up the backbone of the evidence-based approach used to build these complex cases.
Last week, District Attorney Vance announced convictions in two separate, unrelated cases that were investigated and supervised by HTRU, in conjunction with prosecutors from the Trial Division:
- On January 28, 2016, DAMON HAYES was convicted of Sex Trafficking, Promoting Prostitution in the Second and Third Degrees, and Endangering the Welfare of a Child, for running a sex trafficking operation around Super Bowl weekend in January 2014. The ring was comprised of two women and a child that he recruited from Florida, including separately convicted defendant YOLONDA OSTOLOZA and OSTOLOZA’s 15-year-old daughter, whom he forcibly trafficked. OSTOLOZA was sentenced to 1-to-3 years in prison for her role in the trafficking of her daughter; HAYES is expected to be sentenced on February 16, 2016.
- On January 27, 2016, SHERMAN GAMBLE was convicted of Assault in the Second Degree, Promoting Prostitution in the Third Degree, and Endangering the Welfare of a Child following a trial in New York State Supreme Court. The defendant was found guilty of operating a prostitution ring headquartered in his Kips Bay apartment while his 9-year-old grandson lived with him, and assaulting one of the women in the ring.
Assistant District Attorneys Jennifer Dolle and Elizabeth Sheetz handled the prosecution of the GRANT-BYAS case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys John Temple, Chief of the Human Trafficking Response Unit, and Martha Bashford, Chief of the Sex Crimes Unit, as well as Executive Assistant District Attorneys Audrey Moore, Chief of the Special Victims Bureau, and John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division. Analysts Samuel Morales and Hannah Wirt assisted with the case, as did investigators with the Special Victims Bureau, including Sean Ryan, Lauren Liebhauser, and Elena Lui. Assistant District Attorney Dan Rather, Counsel to the Trial Division, also provided assistance.
District Attorney Vance thanked the NYPD’s Major Case Vice Unit and Human Trafficking Team, including Detectives Mark Woods, George Munoz, and Jessica Sterling; Lieutenant Marcus Morales; and Sergeant Gregory Graves.
District Attorney Vance also thanked FBI Special Agent Timothy Simon, as well as the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office and the South Amboy and New Jersey State Police Departments, for their assistance with the investigation.
KARMIK GRANT-BYAS, D.O.B. 1/2/1984
South Amboy, NJ
- Sex Trafficking, a class B felony, two counts
- Promoting Prostitution in the Third Degree, a class D felony, one count