Man accused in Connecticut trafficking ring pleads guilty

DANBURY  — A Connecticut man accused of recruiting young intellectually disabled and mentally ill men into a sex trafficking ring was sentenced to 4 ½-years in prison Friday after pleading guilty.

The News-Times in Danbury reports that 52-year-old Robert King, of Danbury, accepted a conspiracy charge in exchange for the prison sentence. He initially was charged with trafficking in persons, promoting prostitution and tampering with a witness. The plea agreement also calls for 35 years of probation after the prison sentence.

Prosecutors said King would recruit his victims at local group homes and addiction centers, offering to help them out. Then he would ply them with drugs and force them into prostitution for wealthy clients when they incurred heavy debts.

Although investigators were able to identify only 15 victims, prosecutors said there could be hundreds more.

King said in court that he disputes the allegations made by prosecutors but accepted the plea deal out of respect for family members of the victims. He specifically mentioned the family of Sam Marino, who killed himself nine years ago after being drawn into the ring. Marino’s mother, Lin, was at the court hearing Friday.

“Out of respect for Marino being here today I will proceed,” King said.

Two other men also were arrested in connection with the ring. Both were accused of being clients.

William Trefzger, 73, of Westport, pleaded guilty in February to one count of patronizing a trafficked person. It was part of a plea deal calling for a 10-year prison sentence that would be suspended after one year served, followed by probation. He also agreed to testify against another accused client, Bruce Bemer.

Bemer, of Glastonbury, rejected a plea deal this year. His case is scheduled to go to trial next month.