CENTRAL ISLIP - A key witness for the prosecution took the stand today in the trial of three men accused of running a sex-slave ring in Suffolk County.
Jasmin Rivera testified against her 35-year-old brother, Antonio Rivera, as part of a plea deal in exchange for a lighter sentence.
As News 12 Long Island first reported in Aug. 2009, Jasmine and Antonio Rivera were busted for allegedly running a sex-slave ring out of two bars in Lake Ronkonkoma and Farmingville.
Prosecutors say the suspects would lure unsuspecting illegal immigrants into working as waitresses, and then force them to have sex with bar patrons for money. Those who refused were allegedly threatened with deportation.
Today, defense attorneys questioned Jasmin Rivera's character and credibility. They suggested that she played a central role in running the forced prostitution ring for more than five years.
According to the defense, Jasmin Rivera collected money from the women and kept them in line, often standing guard while they had sex with customers in the kitchen.
Speaking through an interpreter, Rivera insisted she only did it out of fear of her brother, a convicted sex offender.
The prosecution is expected to call more witnesses tomorrow.