Human trafficking suspects indicted
(KTVU) MARTINEZ, Calif. - Here's KTVU crime reporter Henry Lee's Rap Sheet blog for April 25, 2016:
HUMAN TRAFFICKING SUSPECTS BUSTED: A man and a woman have been indicted by a Contra Costa County grand jury on charges that they led a sex trafficking ring that spanned many states.
James Joseph Jr. and Avisa Lavassani were the ringleaders of a 14-year operation that was centered in San Ramon and Danville, according to prosecutors.
They were each charged with conspiracy to commit human trafficking, human trafficking, kidnap for rape, kidnap for extortion and rape. A third defendant, Anthony Reynolds, was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit human trafficking and human trafficking.
"I’m pleased the grand jury has indicted these modern-day slavers,” San Ramon Police Chief Joseph Gorton said in a statement. "This is another step forward toward justice for these victims. The case also illustrates that there is no typical human trafficking victim; it can happen to anyone, anywhere, including Danville and San Ramon."
The prosecution culminates an investigation by San Ramon police, the DA's office and the FBI that began last year, when alleged victims came forward with information.
Authorities used wiretaps, surveillance and other evidence that connected the suspects to a sprawling sex-trafficking operation that spanned from California to Cleveland, Miami and New York, investigators said.
The defendants, who were arrested in August, netted "tens of thousands of dollars a week utilizing multiple trafficking victims at one time," prosecutors said.
WOMAN HITS FIRE STATION, SAFEWAY: A woman was arrested on suspicion of hit-and-run today after she crashed her car into a fire station and a Safeway store, stopping only after a San Mateo sheriff's sergeant used his car to force her to a stop, authorities said.
The incident began about 7:40 a.m. when Karen Teichmann, 54, of San Carlos allegedly crashed her Toyota Camry into San Carlos Fire Department's Station 16 at Alameda de las Pulgas and Howard Avenue, authorities said.
As firefighters tried to check on her, she fled the scene and then crashed into the front door of the Safeway store at 1100 El Camino Real in Belmont, sheriff's officials said. She again fled the scene, authorities said.
Deputies spotted the Camry and tried to pull her over, but she refused to stop, leading them on a slow-speed chase south on El Camino Real, authorities said.
She crashed into a car at El Camino Real and Arroyo Avenue in San Carlos and tried to flee while going the wrong way on El Camino Real, investigators said.
That's when a sheriff's sergeant used his car to push her off the road.