DA Vance: Damon Hayes Convicted at Trial of Operating Sex Trafficking Ring on Super Bowl Weekend, Trafficking 15-Year-Old Girl


January 28, 2016

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the trial conviction of DAMON HAYES, 45, for running a sex trafficking operation around Super Bowl weekend in January 2014 consisting of two women and a child that he recruited from Florida, including separately charged defendant YOLONDA OSTOLOZA, 41, and OSTOLOZA’s 15-year-old daughter, whom he forcibly trafficked. A New York State Supreme Court jury found the defendant guilty of all of the charges in the indictment against him, including Sex Trafficking, Promoting Prostitution in the Second and Third Degrees, and Endangering the Welfare of a Child. HAYES is expected to be sentenced on February 16, 2016.  

In November, OSTOLOZA was convicted at trial in New York State Supreme Court of both counts of the indictment against her, Promoting Prostitution in the Second Degree and Endangering the Welfare of a Child, for her role in the prostitution of her daughter. She was sentenced to one-to-three years in state prison.

“The Super Bowl should not be used as an opportunity to exploit trafficking victims and promote illegal sex tourism,” said District Attorney Vance. “Damon Hayes was convicted of exploiting a 15-year-old girl – shockingly, with the help of her own mother – and forcing her to earn him money through his trafficking ring. Yet, once again, we see how New York State’s sex trafficking laws hamper these prosecutions, and do not adequately protect children from being sold for sex.

“In 46 states across the country, simply proving that a child was sold for sex would have been proof of Sex Trafficking. In New York, however, even though this 15-year-old was too young to legally engage in sexual activity with grown men, my Office still had to prove that she was forced to do so by the defendant under the threat of violence to secure this conviction. Today, I am renewing my call to the State legislature: amend our penal code to recognize the fact that children do not have the legal, psychological, or emotional capacity to consent to sexual activity, as reflected in our statutory rape laws. This view of children should not change simply because there is an exchange of money.”

As proven at trial, in January 2014, HAYES, who was living in Manhattan, recruited three females from Florida, including a 15-year-old girl and her mother, OSTOLOZA, to work for him as prostitutes in Midtown. On January 27, 2014, HAYES flew to Florida to meet with the women, and paid for plane tickets for all three to fly to New York the very next day. The defendant posted ads with their photos on Backpage.com, and arranged for them to meet with clients. The women were required to hand over all of the money they earned.

HAYES forced the 15-year-old victim to engage in prostitution, threatening her with physical violence if she did not meet with the client of his choosing. That client was, in fact, an undercover NYPD officer. Four months later, HAYES was arrested following an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office’s Human Trafficking Response Unit and the NYPD.

Yesterday, in a separate, unrelated case, 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 for 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. He will be sentenced on February 9, 2016.

Assistant District Attorneys Rachel Ehrhardt and Natalae Velez handled the prosecution of the HAYES and OSTOLOZA cases under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Lanita Hobbs, Deputy Chief of Trial Bureau 80; Kerry O’Connell, Chief of Trial Bureau 80; 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. Assistant District Attorneys Courtney Groves and Francesca Bartolomey handled the prosecution of the GAMBLE case. Analysts Wilmica Trenard, Leah Rosenberg, Alexandra Jung and Rachel Kroll assisted with the cases. 

District Attorney Vance thanked the NYPD’s Vice Squad’s Human Trafficking Team, in particular Detectives Scott Velasquez and Frank Batista.  

Defendant Information:

DAMON HAYES, D.O.B. 5/24/1970
New York, NY

Convicted:

  • Sex Trafficking, a class B felony, one count
  • Promoting Prostitution in the Second Degree, a class C felony, one count
  • Promoting Prostitution in the Third Degree, a class D felony, one count
  • Endangering the Welfare of a Child, a class A misdemeanor, one count

YOLANDA OSTOLOZA, D.O.B. 12/18/1974
Hollywood, FL

Convicted: 

  • Promoting Prostitution in the Second Degree, a class C felony, one count
  • Endangering the Welfare of a Child, a class A misdemeanor, one count

Sentenced: 

  • 1-to-3 years in state prison