New York man sentenced to 30 years for sex trafficking of minors

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — A Brighton man who was convicted of sex trafficking minors was sentenced to 30 years in prison Thursday. The sentencing follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the New York State Police and the Greece Police Department.

Thomas Cramer, 41, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Frank P. Geraci, Jr. and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of New York.

According to information presented in court, the defendant enticed, promoted and profited from the commercial sex activities of four young girls from April through December 2011, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact, that the girls were all under 18 years old. Cramer used the Internet to identify and recruit victims who typically came from broken homes or who were runaways. The defendant lured young girls into the commercial sex business claiming that they would live a "fancy life style," living and working in hotels while making money.

"The United States Attorney's Office, along with our partners at all levels of law enforcement, are aggressively fighting all forms of human trafficking, with includes the sex trafficking of minors," said U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. "The 30 year sentence handed down in this case could mean that the defendant will spend the rest of his natural life behind bars. Let the penalty also serve as a warning to any other individuals who would consider similar behavior, we will arrest you and prosecute you to the fullest extent of the law."

"The defendant sexually exploited vulnerable minor females for profit and his own gratification," said Special Agent in Charge James C. Spero of HSI Buffalo. "The reprehensible nature of these crimes, which included intentionally addicting his victims to drugs and threatening them with violence if they sought to leave his 'business,' should leave no doubt that he has earned every minute in prison he has received."

In one exchange of text messages, between Cramer and a victim, the defendant enticed the girl by telling her she could make much more money performing commercial sex acts than she could working at a grocery store. Although the girl initially told Cramer she was older than 18, when she informed the defendant that she was 17 years old, Cramer was undeterred and continued to engage in salacious texting with the female.

Cramer placed advertisements on adult web sites regarding the availability of the young girls for commercial sex acts. The acts took place at hotels in the Rochester and Buffalo and in the defendant's residence. Customers were charged between $180 and $200 per hour to engage in sexual activities with the victims and Cramer received a portion of those proceeds.

In requesting a sentence within the Federal Sentencing Guidelines range of 30 years to life, the government cited the fact the defendant spent the vast majority of his adult life in jail, or, when released, committing more criminal acts. Cramer has three prior felony convictions in federal court for fraud related offenses. The government urged the court to impose the severe sentence as necessary to protect the public from an individual who, despite lengthy jail sentences in the past, was never deterred from committing criminal acts of increasing severity. In imposing sentence, Geraci stated that he wanted to send a strong message that abuse of young people will not be tolerated and those who chose to engage in that conduct "pay the price."

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