Pocono Man Sentenced For Human Trafficking

Sentencing for the human trafficking hotel case in Bartonsville that shocked the area has finally concluded. The defendants were convicted after a two-week trial back in October 2020. However, sentencing for the defendant, co-defendant, and the businesses involved has just been carried out over a year and a half later.

Nazim Hassam was the managing shareholder of both the Howard Johnson hotel located in Bartonsville and the Pocono Plaza Inn, as well as part-owner and Vice President of Om Sri Sai, the corporation that owned and operated the Bartonsville Howard Johnson hotel. Hassam, Om Sri Sai, and the Pocono Plaza Inn joined Howard Johnson’s general manager, Faizal Bhimani, who was sentenced earlier this year for sex trafficking and drug trafficking after a two-week jury trial in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in October 2020. Judge Malachy E. Mannion presided over this case.

On February 23, Judge Mannion sentenced Bhimani to 180 months in prison for sex trafficking and drug trafficking offenses. On May 13, the jury found the Pocono Plaza Inn guilty of managing drug-related premises. The Pocono Plaza Inn is sentenced to five years of probation and ordered to pay a $50,000 fine. Hassam was found guilty of drug trafficking conspiracy and two counts of managing drug-related premises. He is sentenced to 60 months in prison and ordered to pay a $150,000 fine.

Judge Mannion also sentenced Om Sri Sai, Inc. to five years of probation for sex and drug trafficking violations. The jury further found that all property owned by Om Sri Sai Inc. facilitated the company’s sex trafficking and drug trafficking crimes and was subject to criminal forfeiture. The company reached an agreement with the government to pay over a cash forfeiture of $2 million as a substitute asset in place of the company’s property. In addition, Om Sri Sai Inc. is sentenced to five years of probation for sex and drug trafficking violations and is ordered to pay restitution totaling $277,630 to two sex trafficking victims. Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, restitution to victims is mandatory. The restitution, in this case, represents the value to the defendant and coconspirators of commercial sex services rendered, costs of future trauma counseling, medical expenses, and other costs incurred as a result of the trafficking.

According to a press release from the Department of Justice, “The evidence at trial, presented through more than 35 witnesses and over 150 exhibits, established that the Howard Johnson Hotel in Bartonsville was a haven for criminal activity between 2011 and 2019. Bhimani, as manager of the Howard Johnson, made rooms available for sex traffickers and drug dealers, and at times, took payment for the hotel directly from the proceeds of criminal activity.  

Hassam, Bhimani, and others placed criminal actors in the rear, first-floor hallway of the Howard Johnson to shield their activities from view from the street and non-criminal guests. Evidence showed that Hassam accepted direct payment at times from drug traffickers and at times did not enter those individuals into the hotel’s computer records.

Testimony established that Hassam was notified by employees of criminal activity but instructed them not to call the police. Police officers testified that Hassam’s hotels were considered high-crime areas and that they responded to at least six overdoses at the two hotels, at least one of which resulted in death.

Bhimani was closely associated with several of these traffickers, the evidence showed, and knew of the methods used to compel the victims to have sex for money. Other employees at the hotel knew as well, and the evidence showed that at least two other employees engaged in sex with victims, including Hassam.  

Bhimani also warned sex traffickers and drug dealers when law enforcement was present at the hotel, including during the manhunt for Eric Frein in 2014. Several admitted sex traffickers and drug dealers testified to successfully evading detection by police thanks to warnings from Bhimani. The hotel allowed known criminals to check in under assumed names or even street names, and Bhimani and Hassam both took steps to obstruct police efforts to locate suspects.

In all, forty defendants have been convicted federally as a result of this investigation, many of whom trafficked women and drugs in the Bartonsville Howard Johnson and the Pocono Plaza Inn. Other defendants have been charged and convicted in state courts. The investigation has resulted in the dismantlement of the P Stones as well as a second gang, the Brick City Brims, and the disruption of two more, the Blood Stone Villains and the Bloodhound Brims. Investigators have seized multiple kilograms of heroin and cocaine, as well as quantities of fentanyl, cocaine base (“crack”), methamphetamine, marijuana, and MDMA (“molly”), and took at least 10 illegal firearms off the streets.”

This case began in 2014 with an FBI investigation into the Black P Stone gang, which is a set of the Bloods that was responsible for gun violence and drug trafficking in Monroe County during that period. As the investigation expanded beyond the P Stones, it uncovered more widespread sex and drug trafficking in Monroe County. Agencies including the Stroud Area Regional Police Department, the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, and the Pennsylvania State Police joined the FBI’s efforts. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sean A. Camoni and Jenny Roberts. This expansion required the investigation to fall under the coordination of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).  

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call the national human trafficking hotline at 1-888-373-7888 or visit https://humantraffickinghotline.org/.

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