The Buffalo News is reporting that: :
“A former State Supreme Court official who used his motor home to transport an illegal alien prostitute from Hamburg to Kentucky was sentenced to four months of home confinement today by a federal judge.
Michael R. Stebick, 61, of Orchard Park, was put on probation for two years, ordered to pay a $5,000 fine and directed to provide 250 hours of community service by U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny.
Stebick was sentenced in connection with a federal investigation into human trafficking activities by a nationwide men's organization known as the Royal Order of Jesters.
Under a felony plea deal he took in August, Stebick also agreed to forfeit to the federal government his 2000 Challenger motor home, which he used to transport the prostitute and some club members to a Jesters conference in Ashland, Ky., in October 2005.
At the time of the crime, federal prosecutors said, Stebick was the law clerk to State Supreme Court Judge Ronald H. Tills, who took a plea deal in the same case and is awaiting sentencing.
According to Skretny, the victim in the case was put up in a hotel by the Jesters, with a sign stating '$70-an-hour' posted outside her room.
'In my judgment, what you did was irresponsible [and] it was illegal,' Skretny said.
The judge said he is aware that Stebick is known in the legal community as a caring, compassionate man, but said his illegal actions showed no concern for the 'pain and dehumanizing shame of the victims of human trafficking.'"
Thanks to reporter Dan Herbeck for his ongoing coverage.
December 9, 2008
Adult Content Warning and Update:
Deposition testimony of Brazilian fishing guide Admilson Garcia da Silva that was previously published on this news site on Sunday, May 25, 2008 in "Brazilian Fishing Trip Depositions: 'Masons' Pictured Having Sex with Teen Prostitutes?" has been added for clarity.
It follows and now precludes the rest of the original article.
Be warned that it is sexually explicit and if this offends you, don't read it.
Decemer 8, 2008
"The first deposition, 61 pages, was provided by Adilson Garcia da Silva on Sunday, April 13, 2008. He describes how he became a fishing guide, his work history, how marijuana was allegedly obtained for the plaintiffs' clients then began describing how girls, from age 13 on up, were lured into prostitution from Brazilian Indian reservations for the fishing trips' clients. The girls, he said, were hired to provide 'programs' that consisted of 'oral sex, strip and dance contests.'
The attorney for the defense is 'Question.' Adilson is 'Answer.'
Question: Did any of the girls tell you that they engaged in sex with Wet-a-Line clients?
Question: Did they describe to you specifically what type of sex that they had with the Wet-a-Line customers?
Answer: All types.
Question: Did the girls tell you that they were involved in different types of sex acts with Wet-a-Line customers?
Question: Did you ever witness any Wet-a-Line customer having sex, whether it was traditional sex or oral sex, from one of these prostitutes?
Question: If you could describe for us some of the types of things that you were told by, either saw or told by these prostitutes as to what specifically was occurring on these Wet-a-Line boats?
Answer: I would see it on the boat that they were practicing oral sex. We would be fishing and sometimes we'd go by and they were practicing oral sex.
Question: Did the girls -- did you ever see or hear anything from the girls, these prostitutes, that they came to you or did they come to you and say that they did anything unusual with any of the customers?
Answer: Well, a sex that I had never seen, was to shove a ball in the behind and I, you know, they would say that and I heard it.
Question: Was there a certain set or group of people customer-wise that participated in these sex acts with customer, excuse me, with the prostitutes, or was it just general customers that came aboard the boat?
Answer: No, they were groups who came exclusively to do that type of thing.
Question: And were those groups mainly American men?
Question: Can you describe for us -- I mean I know you indicated earlier that at some point in time the Amazon Santana, I believe you referred to it as, and the Santana I were joined together for the women and the men to get together. What would a typical night be when the boats would join together?
Answer: You know, party, drinking, strip, sex, drugs, everything.
Question: Do you know the ages of some of the girls that were on the boats with these customers, Wet-a-Line customers, at the time that you worked for Wet-a-Line?
Question: What were some of the ages of the women?
Answer: They would always say they were of age, but they were never of age.
Question: Did you know for a fact that they were not of age?
Answer: Some, yes. Some were not of age.
Question: When you say of age, are you referring to 18 or is it a different age?
Answer: Yes, from 18 up, it is of age.
Question: And is it your understanding that there were girls that were under 18 that were hired to be on these boats as prostitutes.
Question: What is the youngest age that you’re aware of girls being prostitutes on the Wet-A-Line boats?
Answer: They said they were 18, but some of them were 16, 17.
Question: What is the youngest age that you’re aware of a girl being on the boat as a prostitute?
Answer: My brother would pick up a group of girls in Autazes and would take by boat to an American. One was 13, one was 14, and there was one who was even 9 years old.
Question: Were the girls that were brought on the boats, were they given alcohol?
Answer: They would drink.
Question: Okay. Sir, I have provided to you what has been marked as Composite Exhibit B, Defendants’ Composite Exhibit B. If you can take a look at the photographs, please?
Answer: I have already looked at them.
Question: Okay. Are these photographs true and correct copies of pictures that you have taken in the past?
Question: The first picture, which is Bates labeled, on the top, 00655 for identification purposes. Do you recognize the girl in this photo?
Question: Who is she?
Answer: This is Malu, or so called M-A-L-U.
Question: When were these pictures that are in Composite Exhibit B, when were all of these pictures taken?
Answer: This one was last year.
Question: When last year?
Answer: I don’t know the month. I don’t know exactly the month but I think it was September.
Question: Of 2007?
Question: And was anyone else around you when you took these pictures, other than the two people that are identified in the picture?
Answer: There were.
Question: Who else was around you when you took this picture?
Answer: Two American fishermen and two girls, prostitutes.
Question: Was Malu hired as a prostitute at the time that you took this picture?
Question: Was -- what looks to be a gentleman next to Malu, do you know who that person is?
Answer: Yes I know.
Question: Was a he a customer of Wet-A-Line?
Answer: He was, he was a fisherman, a Wet-A-Line’s fisherman.
Question: How old was Malu at the time you took this picture?
Answer: She was 17.
Question: And were these girls hired to be on board this boat, on this day that you took this picture, to be prostitutes?
Question: The next picture, 00663. Can you identify any of the individuals in this picture?
Question: Where did you take this picture?
Answer: It was on the upper part of the boat at the beginning of dinner.
Question: A Wet-A-Line---
Answer: In the beginning of the party.
Question: Was it on a Wet-A-Line boat?
Question: Do you know who the males are that are identified in the picture?
Answer: These are the ones that they all called him Bob.
Question: Did they call both of these males Bob?
Answer: Yes. One would call this one Bob, and the other one also called the other one Bob, and I didn’t know who Bob was.
Question: Were they Wet-A-Line customers?
Question: Who were the females in the pictures, in this picture, excuse me.
Answer: These are the same ones that were in the other pictures, Malu and Kelly.
Question: And were these girls hired to be on board of this boat, on this day that you took this picture, to be prostitutes?
Question: How often did you see these two Bobs on the Wet-a-Line boats?
Answer: They came every year. Every year they would come. The last time was now, last year.
Question: When last year?
Answer: It was September, the month of September.
Question: Is that when you took this picture?
Answer: It was.
Question: Turning to the next picture, 00664, can you identify any of the individuals in the picture?
Answer: I don’t know their names, but they were the boat’s clients.
Question: Do you know if they came with a certain organization?
Answer: The manager said that they were Masons. I didn’t know what Masons were. To me, it was like a religion, like a belief.
Question: Was it your understanding that there were certain Masons that came on these tours?
Question: Do you know what a Mason is?
Answer: I didn’t know what it was, but now I know that it’s an organization of people that are all over the world.
Question: Do you know if all these individuals in this picture were identified to you as being Masons?
Answer: Yes, it was a group.
Question: Were the two people in the prior picture a part of the Mason group?
Answer: It was the same group. For sure it was the same group.
Question: The next picture, 00668, did you take this picture?
Question: Do you know any of the individuals in this picture?
Answer: This one here, I know only by name, and he's an American. I forgot his name. I forgot, but I know him by name.
Question: Is this Don Anderson?
Answer: That’s right. That's the name. Don Anderson. He was the leader of the group, the chief of the group.
Question: Do you know the two females in this picture?
Answer: They were the ones who would be accompanying them from the same group.
Question: Why did you say that the gentleman listed in this picture was the leader? What made you think that he was the leader of the group?
Answer: Because the manager would tell us that he was, you know, the chief, the leader.
Question: Did these girls at the end of this night indicate to you that they were with this gentleman?
Deposition of Admilson Garcia da Silva, Tuesday April 15, 2008.
The attorney for the defense is 'Question.' Admilson is 'Answer.'
Question: Did you ever witness any of the Wet-A-Line customers engaging in sex acts with these women that were on the Wet-A-Line boats?
Question: What did you see?
Answer: I saw five, five of them, five women and five men, and two of the women were minors.
Question: I’m sorry. You said you saw five men and five women and two of the women were minors. Is that what you said?
Answer: That’s right.
Question: And what did you see the men and women doing with each other?
Answer: There was one woman having sex with a man and the other -- the other women only gave them a blow job.
Question: Sir, I had asked you before we took a break what you saw the women engaging in with the men and if you could describe for us what you saw -- in this particular instance that you’re referring to what you saw at that time on the Wet-A-Line boats.
Answer: Exactly. So there were five men with five women, two of them were minors. And they did all types of, you know, sexual acts. And I took pictures but I -- I took pictures but I don’t have them here.
Question: Did you take pictures of what was happening with these men and women at the time you saw them performing sex with each other?
Question: How did you know the ages of the females that were on the boat at the time?
Answer: They told me.
Question: Did the girls appear very young to you?
Answer: Yes, they were girls. They were young girls. Because girls for us is very young.
Question: Now you have children that I believe you said are in the age range, or two of them are 14 and 12, correct?
Answer: The boy is 14, and the girl is 12.
Question: The girls that were hired for services on Wet-A-Line tours, did some of the girls look in the age range of your own daughter who is 12 years old?
Answer: Yes, they were small girls.
Deposition of Adilson Garcia da Silva, Tuesday, April 15, 2008.
Question: Was there ever a certain age group that you were asked to retain the services of meeting, a certain age group of females that you were ever asked to retain the services of while working at Wet-A-Line tours for specific – for a specific group of customers?
Answer: Yes. They always wanted young ones.
Question: Was there ever a specific age group that you were asked to hire for a specific group of customers?
Answer: They would ask from 13 on up.
Question: Was there a specific group of customers, of Wet-A-Line customers, that you were aware of that wanted a certain age group of women?
Answer: Yes, there was.
Question: Which group was that?
Answer: It was more so the group of Masons that would ask for that.
Question: And was that the group of people that are identified in the pictures that you have provided in this case?
This investigation has grown from dryly describing numbers on non profit tax returns to exposing the Shriners' dirty-little-secret sub-group, the Royal Order of Jesters and their prostitution scandals.
It's been kind of shocking to discover that this American icon has been "misleading the public for years" (1), and then come to find out that some of these Shriner/Jesters have committed sex crimes under the guise of being a non profit group.
Prostitution at tax payer expense.
Tax returns show that Jesters national spent over $570,000 on one weekend bash.
That's about $11,000 an hour.
"Where do I sign up?"
If you want to join, memberships go like this.
A man must first be a Master Mason who can then join other sub groups like the Scottish Rite, the Knights Templar or the Shriners. However, a Shriner becomes a member of the Royal Order of Jesters upon secret invitation.
Here are federal court updates involving:
· The second rescheduling of one Jester's sentencing date.
· The sentencing of Len Wah Chong, the owner of the massage parlors who pleaded guilty to “Sex
Trafficking of Persons by Force, Fraud and Coercion.”
· The settlement of the defamation lawsuit between fishing tour operators that included a witness list that
named 19 Jesters.
Last May, three members of the Royal Order of Jesters were caught in a federal human trafficking/prostitution sting.
FBI agents used court ordered wire intercepts to listen the owner of the four "massage parlors," Len Wah Chong, as she ran her prostitution businesses over the phone. Agents heard her talking shop with a former New York state Supreme Court Judge and former director of the Buffalo chapter of the Royal Order of Jesters Court #22, Ronald Tills. He not only frequented the “massage parlors,” but also supported Len Wah Chong by taking some of her illegal alien prostitutes to weekend Jester parties in Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. In his plea agreement, Tills also admitted to coordinating prostitutes with top Jester leaders for a national meeting in Canada.
According to the FBI, Chong told one of her workers that:
"Lin went to New York City and told everyone that if you get arrested in Buffalo, NY, you can get legal immigration status. Chong told the Unidentified Asian Female or UAF the 'Judge' was also upset with Lin due to her conversations in New York City about obtaining legal immigration status after being arrested in Buffalo, NY. Chong stated that the 'Judge' advised her to have people from a church provide the girls with a letter in order to help them with their immigration status."
The U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons has a very good web page and on it, you can read their "2008 Trafficking in Persons Report.”
In it, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice writes:
This year, millions of men, women, and children around the globe will have their lives ruined by human traffickers.
This form of modern-day slavery shocks the conscience of every civilized nation, and the United States is committed to rallying the world to defeat human trafficking… The goal of this Report is to shine a light on recent accomplishments and encourage governments in their resolve to confront those who prey on the weakest and most vulnerable members of society. Together, we are confident that this modern, growing abolitionist movement will continue to rescue, rehabilitate, and restore the lives of those from who so much has been taken.
Next, Ambassador-at-Large and Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State, Dr. Mark P. Lagon, wrote:
This year, America commemorates the bicentennial of its outlawing the transatlantic slave trade. In the decades following, this nation was ripped apart by a bloody civil war which sought to reconcile the words and ideas which birthed the United States and the brutal reality of a society fueled by the blood and sweat of human bondage.
The same lie which underpinned the transatlantic slave trade of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, namely that some people are less than human, is the very lie that fuels modern-day slavery.
Those culpable in this crime—traffickers, recruiters, factory owners, child sex tourists, and corrupt government officials—must be held to account. Those they grossly exploit and control—men, women, children, migrants, and refugees—must be accorded rights as human beings in full. Their dignity must be respected and restored. One of the central aims of U.S. foreign policy—promoting democracy and just governance—depends on meeting these imperatives… We remain committed to acting as a voice for the voiceless—an advocate for the prostituted woman or child, the exploited domestic worker, the trapped agricultural laborer. Their bondage demands our attention and is worthy of our efforts.
You are a welcome partner in the growing, truly global coalition, and heeding the call for abolition!
Ambassador Mark P. Lagon"
The FBI's human trafficking sting caught two other Jesters besides Judge Tills. They are former police captain John Trowbridge and former prosecutor for the Erie County district attorney's office, former New York State Supreme Court law clerk and former Impresario of the Jesters Buffalo Court #22, Michael Stebick.
All three entered into plea agreements for violating or conspiring to violate the Mann Act, which was born of the United States White-Slave Traffic Act of 1910. It prohibited white slavery, banned the interstate transport of females for "immoral purposes" and addressed prostitution, immorality, and human trafficking.
The most recent news is that John Trowbridge, was initially scheduled for sentencing on July 31, 2008. That was rescheduled out to November 4 and, apparently he's so busy assisting with other cases, and possibly Grand Juries, that his sentencing has been again rescheduled for May 6, 2009.
Stebick is scheduled for sentencing on December 9, 2008.
Tills is scheduled for sentencing on January 12, 2009.
The owner of the “massage parlors,” Len Wah Chong, was sentenced on November 19 to six years in federal prison for enslaving as many as 11 illegal alien prostitutes. She pleaded guilty early last April to "Sex Trafficking of Persons by Force, Fraud and Coercion." She forfeited two properties,$70K in cash and jewelry seized and now must pay $350,000 in restitution to those she kept as sex slaves.
Finally, the Richard W. Schair and Wet-a-Line Tours LLC v Phillip Marsteller and Amazon Tours, Inc. defamation lawsuit was settled out of court on Friday, December, 5.
These fishing tour competitors started brawling in federal court last May after Schair sued Marsteller for supposedly saying that Wet-A-Line tours included drugs and prostitution.
This case is related to the Shriners because the defendant’s witness list named 19 Jesters who were expected to testify about their first hand knowledge of drugs and prostitution while on a fishing trip to Brazil.
Included in the court documents were statements from five “Jane Does” given to the Brazilian federal police and depositions from two Brazilian fishing guides.
One of the girls said she had after she’d been lured off her Indian reservation by a man named “Richard” who said he’d pay her to clean his fishing boat. Once on the boat, she found that she was supposed to drink whiskey and have sex with North American tourists.
Another said she was left pregnant at 13 after such a trip.
One fishing guide testified that these Jesters preferred to be called "Masons." He also reported seeing them have sex with underage girls and taking pictures that he provided to the Brazilian Federal Police.
On a more positive note, Marsteller was honored on Monday, September 15, 2008 at a ceremony held at the Church Center of the UN. He, on behalf of his Peacock Bass fishing business Amazon Tours, Inc., took a public stand against child sex tourism by signing "The Code" AKA Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism. The event was sponsored by ECPAT, which stands for "End Child Prostitution Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes."
The signing ceremony honored Marsteller and Amazon Tours for becoming only the sixth American business to take such a public stand against child sex tourism.
On Wednesday, December 3, 2008, Imperial Potentate Douglas Maxwell, Chairman of the SHC Board of Trustees Ralph Semb and Corporate Director of Public Relations Alicia Aargiz-Lyons were asked:
"What is your reaction to the latest news articles about those members of the Royal Order of Jesters pleading guilty in Buffalo to violating the Mann Act? Those Jesters allegedly involved with child sex tourism?"
To date, all three have failed to respond.
1 - In 1987, the Washington Monthly published "Faith, hope and chicanery; want to do some good? Ask your favorite charity where it spends its money" and wrote:
"The Shrine fraternity, which operates the nation’s largest charity, has been misleading the public for years…In 1984, the circuses reaped an estimated profit of $17.5 million. The charity’s own records show the hospitals received only 1 per cent of that, a total of $182,000."
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