REGION — On Tuesday, a federal judge ordered that Michael Lustig be held without bail pending trial, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Alessandra Serrano, who prosecutes human trafficking cases.
Lustig, 70, was charged with the sex trafficking of minors last week following a law enforcement sting this summer.
He stands accused of soliciting prostitution from two girls, one the age of 12, the other 13, according to a complaint filed by law enforcement last week.
The San Diego Sheriff’s North County Human Trafficking Task Force conducted a prostitution sting on June 8 targeting “johns” at the Howard Johnson Motel in Encinitas. Lustig was arrested at the motel on suspicion of being a “john” after responding to an online advertisement for an adult female.
At the time of his arrest, Sheriff’s deputies seized two phones from his pockets, one displaying the online advertisement from an undercover officer posing as a prostitute, according to the complaint. The other phone had text messages soliciting prostitution.
A search of his car revealed two additional phones, both displaying messages like “Hey i have a room…you think you can front me the money for our date.”
A number belonging to “Andrew” was saved in one phone. Law enforcement later determined that number belonged to a 13-year-old girl. In text messages, Lustig and the girl used words like “bookstore” and “library” to schedule meet-ups.
The name “Dominick” was stored in two of the phones, which Sheriff’s deputies later connected to a 12-year-old girl. Lustig exchanged 39 text messages with her, with 110 received, sent or missed calls between them.
The younger girl told law enforcement that Lustig paid her $80 for each encounter. They met up five to seven times in spring of 2012.
The older girl said that Lustig gave her $200 each of the three times they had sex in the fall of 2011.
They both knew Lustig as “George.”
Working in conjunction with the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of California, multiple search warrants and subpoenas were issued to obtain further evidence.
Sheriff’s deputies located receipts at various motels on El Cajon Boulevard under Lustig’s name. A Sheriff’s detective also obtained video surveillance footage of him entering a room with the younger girl and leaving about 25 minutes later.
Lustig’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Oct. 29 at the federal courthouse building in downtown San Diego.
According to a Sheriff’s department press release, it’s believed Lustig victimized other women and minors. Anyone with further knowledge about the situation is urged to contact the Sheriff’s Department at (760) 706-9287.