District Attorney Vance Announces Indictment of Three Men for Coordinated, Targeted Sexual Assaults of Prostituted Women


September 30, 2015

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the indictment of FERNANDO SANDEL, 27, ISAIAS RIVERA, 31, AND JOEY CRUZ, 26, for conspiring to rape and rob prostituted women. The defendants are charged in a New York State Supreme Court indictment with Predatory Sexual Assault, Rape, Burglary, and Robbery, among other charges, including conspiring together to commit those crimes.[1]

“This investigation revealed a calculated, coordinated effort to systematically target, rob, and repeatedly sexually assault prostituted women of Asian descent after rendering them helpless by spraying them with mace and, on two occasions, binding their wrists and ankles with zip ties,” said District Attorney Vance. “Based on numerous texts and other communications between the defendants pre-dating the first alleged attack, we have good reason to believe that there are likely more victims of this brutal conspiracy. 

“If you or someone you know has information pertaining to this investigation, I urge you to call our Sex Crimes hotline at 212-335-9373. As we see time and time again, predators target those whom they believe will not seek help from law enforcement. To those women, I say we are here to help you and we will help you, regardless of immigration status or what language you speak.”

According to court documents and statements made on the record in court, beginning in April, SANDEL, RIVERA, and CRUZ conspired to rape and rob prostituted 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 prostituted woman online 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 a prostituted 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 sexually assaulted a prostituted woman 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 District Attorney Carolina Holderness is handling the prosecution of this case with Assistant District Attorney Justin McNabney, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Martha Bashford, Chief of the Sex Crimes Unit, and Executive Assistant District Attorneys Audrey Moore, Chief of the Special Victims Bureau; and John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division. Analyst Rachel Kroll is assisting with the case.

District Attorney Vance thanked the NYPD’s Detective Jerald Rivera of the Manhattan Special Victims Squad, and Officer Harris Goldner of the Bronx Special Victims Squad. 

Defendant Information:

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

Charges: 

  • 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, 3 counts
  • Unlawful Imprisonment in the First Degree, a class E felony, 3 counts
  • Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree, a class E felony, 1 count

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

Charges: 

  • 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
  • Unlawful Imprisonment in the First Degree, a class E felony, 2 counts
  • Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a class E felony, 1 count

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

Charges: 

  • 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, 3 counts
  • Unlawful Imprisonment in the First Degree, a class E felony, 3 counts
  • Conspiracy in the Second Degree, a class E felony, 1 count

[1] The charges contained in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.