hotel manager in Georgia pleaded guilty today to trafficking with
respect to peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude or forced labor.
According to court documents, Shreesh Tiwari, 70, an Indian national
and legal U.S. permanent resident, began managing the Budgetel Motel in
Cartersville, Georgia, in 2020. Tiwari hired the victim to work as a
house cleaner at the motel. Tiwari knew that, prior to arriving at the
Budgetel, the victim had experienced homelessness, struggled with a
heroin addiction and lost custody of her young child. Tiwari promised
the victim that he would help her regain custody of her child by
providing her with pay, an apartment, and an attorney.
Instead of following through with his promises, Tiwari monitored the
victim’s interactions with motel guests and employees and forbade her
from speaking to them. Tiwari also made numerous sexual overtures to the
victim. When Tiwari became angry at the victim, he threatened to evict
her from the room he offered her at the Budgetel, knowing that she would
become homeless as a result. Tiwari also threatened to report the
victim’s drug use to law enforcement or child welfare agencies whenever
he was angry at her. Eventually, Tiwari began to regularly “evict” the
victim from her motel room, and even locked her out of her room at night
without warning. Tiwari later required the victim to perform oral sex
on him to stay at the motel. If she did not, Tiwari removed her from the
property, causing her to be homeless.
“Human trafficking is an abhorrent crime in which traffickers
specifically identify and target the most vulnerable members of our
society, often using fraudulent promises to offer hope to someone in
need,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice
Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This conviction demonstrates that
the Justice Department is committed to prosecuting motel operators and
other landlords who misuse and abuse their position of power over
tenants to compel them to engage in commercial sex acts.”
“Victims of sex trafficking crimes are some of the most vulnerable
individuals in our communities and they are targeted by traffickers as a
result,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan for the Northern District
of Georgia. “We refuse to tolerate human trafficking of any kind and
this conviction reinforces our commitment to protecting all victims of
crime in our community – regardless of their status.”
“Prosecuting human traffickers and rescuing human trafficking victims
is a top priority of this office and the Department of Homeland
Security,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Travis Pickard of the
Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Atlanta Field Office. “This
guilty plea highlights that commitment and serves as a warning to other
predators that law enforcement is determined to find, arrest and punish
those involved in this heinous crime.”
Sentencing is set for Sept. 6. Tiwari faces a maximum penalty of up
to 20 years in prison, as well as a $250,000 fine. As part of his plea
agreement, Tiwari agreed to pay slightly over $40,000 in mandatory
restitution to the victims of offense. A federal judge will determine
any sentence based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory
Assistant Attorney General Clarke, U.S. Attorney Buchanan and Acting Special Agent in Charge Pickard made the announcement.
The Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations
Dalton Office investigated the case, with assistance from the Georgia
Bureau of Investigation and the Bartow-Cartersville Drug Task Force.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Leanne Marek and Annalise Peters for the
Northern District of Georgia and Trial Attorney Kate Hill of the Justice
Department’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit are prosecuting the
Anyone who has information about human trafficking should report that
information to the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at
1-888-373-7888, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For more information about human trafficking, please visit www.humantraffickinghotline.org.
Information on the Department of Justice’s efforts to combat human
trafficking can be found at www.justice.gov/humantrafficking.