An Edison woman was sentenced to serve 10 years in state prison for operating a Middlesex County prostitution ring that netted millions of dollars in profits.
Deanna Ruiz, 44, was sentenced to the term in New Brunswick by Superior Court Judge Michael A. Toto after she pleaded guilty on August 4, 2014 to racketeering charges under a plea agreement reached with Middlesex County Assistant Prosecutor Russell Curley.
Ruiz was among six adults and one juvenile who were arrested following an intensive investigation by the Woodbridge Police Department, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the state Attorney General’s Division of Criminal Justice.
During the investigation, it was determined that Ruiz operated an internet prostitution service that drew clients to a motel in Woodbridge, and other motels in central New Jersey. Over a 15-year-period, she collected millions of dollars. In the past several years, it was determined that she booked more than 6,000 hotel rooms at a cost of $1.087 million.
She also created several sham companies and utilized them to launder the proceeds of her illegal activities and used the companies to commit tax and unemployment fraud.
A financial investigation of Ruiz’s holdings revealed that she had filed several years of tax returns claiming salary and profits from a business called Princess Party Planning, LLC.
Ruiz’s state tax returns listed numerous deductible expenses for the business, but there was no indication the business was ever legitimate. It further was determined that she terminated herself from the business and then collected more than $7,000 in unemployment benefits.
She initially was arrested and charged on October 4, 2012 and was released after posting bail. She was arrested a second time on July 13, 2013 and was charged with money laundering, promoting organized street crime and promoting prostitution.
Detectives from the Woodbridge Police Department and the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs and Organized Crime Bureau, and the Edison Police Department arrested Ruiz in Edison.
Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew C. Carey commended the efforts of law enforcement to put an end to the on-going criminal enterprise.
“We will continue to target similar criminal activity that exploits vulnerable women in order to defend the safety of our residents and their quality of life,” Carey said.
Co-defendants who pleaded guilty to various charges arising from the investigation include Kathy Baroso, 41, of Kissimme, Florida, who worked in partnership with Ruiz and was sentenced to a five-year prison term on September 15, 2014.
She was charged after investigators determined she ran her own prostitution network and would typically purchase airline tickets for the women to travel to New Jersey to work for Ruiz.
Ruiz’s sister, Juliana Cabrera, 31, of Edison, pleaded guilty and was placed on probation on September 15, 2014 for conspiring to promote prostitution by booking hotel rooms and preparing daily schedules for prostitutes.
Claris Liriano, 42, of Perth Amboy pleaded guilty on September 15, 2014 to fourth degree promoting prostitution. She is scheduled to be sentenced on November 10, 2014.
Rofel Flores, 41, of Bergenfield pleaded guilty to conspiracy to promote prostitution and was placed on probation on September 15, 2014 after he was charged with working as a driver for the prostitution ring, transporting prostitutes from airports to their hotels. Flores also monitored the activities of the prostitutes and protected them from difficult customers.
Also arrested and charged was Veronica Cullen, 27, of Bloomfield. Cullen, who remains a fugitive, faces counts of conspiracy, promoting prostitution, and promoting organized street crime. In addition, a 15-year-old male, whose identity is being withheld, has been charged as a delinquent for collecting money from prostitutes and giving the cash to Ruiz.
Carey credited Detective Patrick Harris of the Woodbridge Police Department for his work on the case. The prosecutor also credited the Special Investigation Unit of the Woodbridge Police Department under the leadership of Lt. Brian Murphy, and Woodbridge Detectives Chris Lyons, John Kruszka, Bryan Jaremczak, Matt Herbert, Juan Bonilla and Sean Grogan and members of the Edison Police Department, including Detectives Frank Todd and Mike Carulo.
Carey stressed that all criminal defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
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