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Couple Sentenced to 3 to 10 Years for Human Trafficking

September 1, 2016



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jennifer Schorn, 215.348.6337, jmschorn@buckscounty.org

Two middle-aged Romanian nationals who exploited vulnerable women by prostituting them in massage parlors they owned were sentenced yesterday by a Bucks County judge to serve three to 10 years each in state prison.

Vladimir Rytsar, 56, and his wife, Galina Rytsar, 53, pleaded guilty Feb. 22 to six felony charges including human trafficking, promoting prostitution and conspiracy.

They acknowledged operating two massage parlors in Morrisville and Warminster, where women they recruited through online ads performed sex acts on customers. Most of the women were recent immigrants, impoverished or struggling with addiction, Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Schorn said.

Bank records showed that the Warminster site alone took in more than $43,000 in a two-month period, Schorn told Common Pleas Court Judge Wallace H. Bateman Jr. “That is greed and exploitation at its finest,” she argued.

At the time of their arrests in July 2015, Schorn said, the Rytsars had at least five women working in their enterprise. One was a mother struggling with alcoholism who “could not get out from under that while working for the Rytsars,” Schorn said. Another was a foreign woman whose visa was confiscated by Galina Rytsar.

The Rytsars previously had been convicted of similar offenses in New Jersey, and still were under supervision for those crimes when arrested. Schorn further noted that the Rytsars continued recruiting women and operating their Bucks County massage parlors even after police had served search warrants on them.

“I have very little confidence that, if they walked out of here today, they would refrain from re-engaging in that kind of behavior,” Bateman said.

Investigators found that the Rytsars recruited workers, and advertised their illegal services, on a web site known for soliciting sexual services. Customers responding to the ad by phone would reach Galina Rytsar who, using an alias, would set an appointment at one of the massage parlors.

Schorn said that Galina Rytsar would berate the sex workers if they failed to produce the level of income that she expected of them.

Galina and Vladimir Rytsar testified that they have found legitimate employment since their most recent arrests and that they would never re-enter the prostitution business.

“I committed these mistakes because of the money,” Galina Rytsar said, speaking through an interpreter. “We needed the money to assist our children, to make sure that they didn’t lack for food and other essentials.”

She said that she travels frequently to New York to care for her ailing mother, that her adult daughter suffers from schizophrenia and needs their help, and that she and her husband help care for their 4-year-old grandson while his parents are working.

Rytsar described herself as “a kind and good person, but because of the money, I lost myself.” She said doing legitimate work for less money “is easier. You sleep better. You walk this earth lighter.”

Vladimir Rytsar spoke only briefly, saying, “I promise to do honest work to be a worthy member of society, and to correct my previous wrongdoing.”

Defense attorneys Michael Kotik and Glenn Gilman asked Bateman to consider imposing a county prison sentence with some form of house arrest, so that the Rytsars could continue to provide care for their family members.

When the Rytsars came to the United States 20 years ago, “the most profitable thing they found to do was against the law,” Gilman said. “There is no sugar-coating that.”

Gilman argued, however, that the Rytsars’ behavior over the past year demonstrates that they have turned away from crime to legitimate forms of employment. “They’re already essentially rehabilitated,” he said.

“There are a lot of people that were harmed,” Kotik said, but now the Rytsars “truly get … how to earn money in this country and help your family without breaking the law.”

Schorn responded that the Rytsars had reoffended repeatedly, even after being charged in this case.

“They think they can manipulate the system,” she argued. “They don’t stop. They say what they need to say, and they try to play us for fools.”

In addition to the aggravated-range state prison sentence, Bateman imposed a concurrent 10 years of probation. The couple also could face deportation by federal immigration officials.

The judge said the Rytsars’ recidivism troubled him, and he noted that their family and financial needs were no more than those of the women they had victimized.

“Many of these young women that you took in had similar issues,” Bateman said. “They were looking for someone to show them a little mercy, and yet you exploited them.”

Approved for release by Matthew Weintraub, Deputy District Attorney.

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