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Metro-Jeff inmate accused of running prostitution ring from jail

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A former Metro-Jefferson Public Safety Building inmate allegedly ran a prostitution ring while he was incarcerated in the Waterman Drive jail last year.

On Sept. 27, 2012, Eric J. Oliver, 30, formerly of 505 McBride St., Syracuse, was arrested on charges of second-degree promoting prostitution, a felony, and endangering the welfare of a 15-year-old girl.

While he was behind bars, he was using a phone at the jail to work with two women to run a sex-trafficking ring in Syracuse, state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman alleged today. He made the phone calls even though he knew the conversations were being recorded, the attorney general’s office said in a news release.

The two women arrested are Tirra Pate, 19, of Syracuse, and Jessica Moro, 19, of Cicero. The three allegedly preyed on girls as young as 15 years old, recruiting them to work as prostitutes and then forcing them to stay through intimidation and by giving them drugs, according to a press release.

According to the eight-count indictment, the three ran the prostitution ring in Watertown, Syracuse, Ithaca and from other locations in the state from Sept. 16, 2012, to April 2 of this year. While acting in an alleged conspiracy, the three communicated with each other and with others about the prostitution business over phones “using codes and speaking in a guarded, cryptic manner,” according to the indictment.

During separate but coded conversations with the two women on Oct. 3, 2012, Mr. Oliver directed Ms. Moro to transport prosititutes to Binghamton and instructed Ms. Pate how to anonymously deposit proceeds from the business into his inmate account.

In responding to the arrests, Jefferson County Undersheriff Paul W. Trudeau said all outgoing inmate conversations are recorded by the sherff’s department.

Saying he was aware of the case, the undersheriff said his office provided “a couple of surveillances for the state police, ”but was involved any further.” He referred all other questions to state police investigators.

The three defendants were arraigned Tuesday morning before Judge Anthony F. Aloi in Onondaga County Court. Mr. Oliver faces charges including two counts of sex trafficking, compelling prostitution, promoting second- and third-degree prostitution, and third-degree rape, all felonies. He also is charged with fifth-degree conspiracy, a misdemeanor.

He was indicted on the second-degree promoting prostitution charge that alleges he “knowingly advanced or profited from prostitution of a person less than 16 years old; to wite, a 15-year-old female whose identity is known to the grand jury.”

Ms. Moro faces felony charges of promoting prostitution, and a fifth-degree conspiracy misdemeanor.

Ms. Pate faces felony charges of sex trafficking, promoting prostitution, and the misdemeanor conspiracy charge.

The three suspects are accused of intimidating and forcing young women to commit acts of prostitution. They allegedly provided cocaine, heroin and the ecstasy to the prostitutes to keep them working, the A.G.’s office said.

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