Former Police Officer Who Protected Sex Traffickers Gets 3-Year Sentence

A former police officer in Brewster, N.Y., was sentenced to 36 months in prison on Thursday for protecting two Queens-based sex-trafficking and prostitution businesses in exchange for free sexual services that were sometimes performed at a police station.

The former officer, Wayne Peiffer, 51, worked for the Village of Brewster Police Department and had faced up to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act extortion and conspiracy to commit bribery in Brooklyn federal court in April 2022.

“The defendant is rightly punished with a prison sentence for disgracing his badge, violating the public trust in the community he was sworn to serve, and facilitating the victimization of vulnerable women, all for his own self-satisfaction,” Breon Peace, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement.

Mr. Peiffer’s lawyer, Susan G. Kellman, had asked the court for leniency and to allow her client to serve time from his home, where he has been in detention since his arrest. In her request, Ms. Kellman said Mr. Peiffer felt “deep remorse” for his actions.

Ms. Kellman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

The charges against Mr. Peiffer — part of a 14-count indictment filed against him and five others in December 2021 — represented an important thread in a larger takedown of a sex-trafficking ring and a prostitution network that prosecutors say were based in Queens and operated across New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, including in Brewster. Mr. Peiffer initially pleaded not guilty to nine counts, including bribery, extortion and use of an interstate facility to promote prostitution; he was not accused of sex trafficking.

Prosectors in Brooklyn said the case demonstrated their commitment to rooting out corruption and protecting sex-trafficking victims.

Mr. Peiffer had been a police officer in Brewster, a village about 50 miles north of New York City, since at least 2006, prosecutors said in court filings. The Brewster Police Department suspended him indefinitely after his arrest in December 2021. He was accused of protecting the two organizations over more than a decade, including by tipping them off to law enforcement activity, in exchange for free sexual services from women who were sometimes delivered to him at the police station in Brewster.

In the indictment, prosecutors described a sex-trafficking operation that had been transporting young women and minor girls from Mexico to the United States, including Brewster, since at least 2004.

Mr. Peiffer had been scheduled for sentencing last May, but the hearing was delayed when his wife went into labor just hours before it was to begin. His wife, Shayla Peiffer, is one of several people who wrote supportive letters to the court at the time asking for a more lenient sentence. In the letters, Mr. Peiffer’s friends, adoptive parents and former romantic partners described him as a man who emerged from a “difficult” and “rocky” childhood in foster care to become a loving and attentive father to his daughters. Ms. Peiffer wrote that she was pregnant with a daughter, due that June.

In his own letter to the court, Mr. Peiffer said that he had chosen “to turn a blind eye” when he discovered the sex-trafficking and prostitution organizations. “Worse, I became a contributor to exploiting these women,” he wrote. “My conduct went against everything I was raised to believe.” He also described his growth from counseling since his arrest and his efforts to rebuild his relationships with his daughters.

The five other people who were indicted with Mr. Peiffer have all been convicted or pleaded guilty.

Luz Elvira Cardona, Roberto Cesar Cid Dominguez, Blanca Hernandez Morales and Jose Facundo Zarate Morales — all of whom are related by blood or common-law marriage, prosecutors said — were charged with sex trafficking and transporting minors. They were convicted on all charges in October and are awaiting sentencing, with most facing up to life in prison. A fifth person also charged, Cristian Noe Godinez, was identified by prosecutors as a driver for a prostitution business. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to facilitate prostitution and conspiracy to facilitate bribery and was sentenced in December to 14 months in prison.

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