Investigators believe that for years, Justin Robert Muoio coerced a woman into selling her body through a Miami escort service — often beating her if she refused his demands.
And the prostitution didn’t stop when she became pregnant.
Muoio instead advertised her on Craigslist.com as a “pregnant prostitute” for “fetish clientele,” the woman told police, according to newly released court documents. In all, the 23-year-old woman was forced to work for two months while expecting her child, cops say.
The outrageous allegation has now spurred human trafficking investigators to ramp up their investigation into Mouio, who is awaiting trial on accusations he kept the woman falsely imprisoned inside their North Miami-Dade apartment during a vicious argument in August.
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The case was outlined in a search warrant recently executed to examine cellphones believed used by Muoio to arrange the illegal trysts.
“Human trafficking cases, or modern day slavery, involve unspeakable and unthinkable acts of inhumanity,” said Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “This reality sinks deeper with each new victim we rescue.”
The 32-year-old Muoio is on house arrest awaiting trial. He’s also been charged with deriving financial support for prostitution.
He has pleaded not guilty. “We’re looking into the allegations and we’re waiting to talk to the woman in a deposition to learn more,” said his lawyer, Marc Morris.
Detectives attached to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s human trafficking task force have seen their share of appalling allegations in recent years.
In October, a Miami mother was jailed after she allegedly taught her underage teenage daughter to prostitute — all to get money for drugs. Four people were also arrested last year for forcing a 13-year-old girl to prostitute and dance at Club Madonna, the highly visible strip club on South Beach.
Then there was the suspected Miami pimp whom police say forced a 13-year-old runaway to tattoo his street name on her eyelids. Arrested in 2013, he is still awaiting trial.
As for Muoio, he was first arrested in August after he and the woman got into a “heated altercation ... related to infidelity,” according to an arrest report.
When the woman tried leaving the apartment, Muoio pushed her, locked the deadbolt and refused to let her leave, police said. He also took away her spare key and disconnected the house phone before leaving the apartment, according to the arrest report.
She stayed locked inside for 90 minutes until she managed to escape when Muoio’s mother opened the door briefly to go outside and talk to her son.
His mother, Louise Henig-Muoio, 65, was also arrested for false imprisonment. Cops say the mother also refused to let the woman leave.
The woman later told Miami Sgt. Misael Reyes, a task force investigator, that starting in August 2009, Muoio “physically forced her” to sell her body through a company called VIP Escort Services. “She would average 8 to 10 dates a day,” six days a week, according to the search warrant.
The woman soon began living with Muoio and his mother. He began taking all her earnings and “restricting where she could go and who she could talk to,” the warrant said.
It was during 2013, when she became pregnant, that Muoio began advertising her for fetish clients via Craigslist.com. She prostituted for two months during her pregnancy, each date costing $200, the warrant said.
Investigators seized two cellphones Muoio allegedly used to take photos, post “disguised” ads on Craigslist and communicate with clients.
Law enforcement targeting prostitution has for years scrutinized the popular website, which in 2010 removed its “adult” section. The website Backpages.com has since become more notorious for escort ads but law enforcement authorities say pimps still use Craigslist, just more discretely.