Suffolk Sex Trafficking Ring Leaders Sentenced

Antonio Rivera
Antonio Rivera

A Patchogue man has been sentenced to 60 years in prison for luring Central American women into the county and then into prostitution at two bars—fronts for his sex-trafficking ring.

Antonio Rivera, 38, was sentenced Wednesday by District Judge Sandra Feuerstein at Central Islip federal court along with his two accomplices, 33-year-old John Whaley of Bellport and 34-year-old Jason Villaman of Brentwood, who got 25 and 30 years behind bars, respectively.

“The defendants lured vulnerable young women to the United States with the promise of a better life,” said Loretta Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “Once here, the defendants then turned their American dream into a nightmare, subjecting them to unspeakable physical violence and emotional abuse.”

The trio had been convicted conspiracy, sex trafficking, forced labor, alien harboring and alien transportation after a four-week trial.

Prosecutors said the men recruited the victims—all of whom were undocumented immigrants from Honduras, Guatelmala, Mexico, and El Salvador—to work as waitresses in Rivera’s bars, Sonidos de la Frontera in Lake Ronkonkoma and La Hija del Mariachi in Farmingville.

After they were hired, Rivera forced the victims to engage in sex acts with the patrons in exchange for money, which he kept. The victims were beaten, raped, defrauded and threatened with deportation to keep them from calling police.

Whaley, who assisted Rivera in hiring waitresses, maintaining the bars and driving the victims around, raped one of the victims whom he was supposed to drive home.

Villaman acted as a security guard at the Lake Ronkonkoma bar and helped Rivera dump an unconscious victim on the lawn outside her home after the he and Rivera had assaulted her.

Several victims also testified that their wages were often taken from them after the trio told them the money would be saved for them, but the funds were not returned as promised.