Second indictments handed down after pair allegedly sex trafficked victim inside Jamaica hotel: DA

Howard Beach
Five Romanian nationals living in Queens were arrested Thursday and criminally charged hours later in Brooklyn federal court for allegedly skimming ATMs across the borough to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from more than 600 victims, according to federal prosecutors.
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A Brooklyn woman and a man from Long Island were indicted for a second time by a Queens grand jury on sex trafficking and other charges in a July incident that took place in the Quality Inn hotel in Jamaica.

Destiny Lebron, 19, of North Portland Avenue in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, and Gil Iphael, 22, of Copiague Street in Valley Stream, Nassau County, were arraigned Sept. 13 before Queens Supreme Court Justice Peter Vallone on an 11–count indictment charging them with sex trafficking, promoting prostitution, unlawful imprisonment and assault. Lebron is additionally charged with petit larceny, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

According to the charges, Lebron befriended the victim via Instagram in February and the two exchanged messages of sexual content and photos and engaged in prostitution-related conversation. During the conversations, Lebron requested the victim create a Megapersonals account for the defendant that would allow her to advertise other girls. Lebron then asked the victim to engage in prostitution and the victim declined. Lebron continued to call and message the victim over two days and the two agreed to meet.

Katz said that on July 30, Lebron along with co-defendant Iphael went to pick up the victim and the three traveled to the Quality Inn hotel located at 153-95 Rockaway Blvd. Lebron checked into a room using the victim’s identification and once inside the room she informed the victim that she would either rob unsuspecting buyers of sex or engage in prostitution activity. When the victim again refused, Lebron and Iphael began slapping, punching and threatening the victim.

The defendants forced the victim to take pictures of herself which would be posted on the internet and also used photos saved to the victim’s phone. Later that evening, several clients appeared at the hotel and engaged in prostitution activity with the victim. The defendants kept all proceeds collected from the clients.

The victim managed to escape on July 31, when she was left unattended in the hotel room. Katz said that after the incident took place, the victim told a friend what happened to her and the friend sent her an email with an article on sex trafficking. Since the defendant still had possession of the victim’s phone the email was intercepted and a return message was sent to the friend threatening to kill the victim’s family.

“This is the second indictment for the two defendants, who were previously accused of viciously assaulting, torturing, and robbing the unsuspecting victim in August,” Katz said. “As alleged in the new charges, a mere week prior to this incident, the defendants forced a young woman into prostitution through threats and physical force for their own financial benefit. Both defendants are in custody and will be held accountable.”

Justice Vallone ordered the defendants to return to court on Oct. 25. If convicted, both defendants Lebron and Iphael additionally face up to 25 years in prison.