Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Detroit Dance Club Busted

Veniamin Gonikman, 56, a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Ukraine, was sentenced last week in federal court for his role in an international conspiracy to compel Eastern European women to work in exotic dance clubs in the Detroit metropolitan area.   U.S. District Court Judge Victoria A. Roberts sentenced Gonikman to 36 months in prison followed by 3 years of supervised release.   He is the ninth and final member of the charged conspiracy to be sentenced.                                                      
Gonikman became a fugitive in 2005 following the arrests of his co-conspirators, Aleksandr Maksimenko and Michael Aronov.   He was apprehended in Ukraine in January 2011 and pleaded guilty to money laundering on Sept. 13, 2011.   According to information presented in court filings, between September 2001 and February 2005, Gonikman, together with Maksimenko and Aronov, operated Beauty Search Inc., a business that brokered and managed Eastern European women who performed in exotic dance clubs in the Detroit area.   The three men recruited a number of these women in Ukraine, facilitated their illegal entry into the United States, and then harbored them for commercial advantage and private financial gain.  Gonikman obtained a share of the proceeds earned by the women and transferred the money to Ukraine in order to promote and carry on the Beauty Search business.
“Human trafficking is the equivalent of modern day slavery.   It deprives the victims of their freedom and dignity and it has no place in our country,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.   “The Justice Department is committed to the aggressive prosecution of those who rob individuals of their freedom.”
“This sentence brings the final member of this human trafficking ring to justice,” Barbara McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.   “These defendants treated human beings like a commodity, enticing Eastern European women to come to the United States illegally and then exploiting them for commercial advantage.”

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