CARTERSVILLE, Ga. — A 70-year-old hotel manager has pleaded guilty to sex trafficking charges after prosecutors said he took advantage and exploited a vulnerable worker who was trying to get her life back on track.
The Department of Justice announced Shreesh Tiwari pleaded guilty on June 1. He started managing the Budgetel Motel in Cartersville in 2020. According to prosecutors, he hired the victim to work as a maid.
"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," according to a DOJ news release. "Tiwari promised the victim that he would help her regain custody of her child by providing her with pay, an apartment, and an attorney."
He didn't follow through on his promises, the DOJ said.
Instead, prosecutors said Tiwari forbade her from speaking with motel guests and employees and even made several sexual advances to the victim. When he got angry with the woman, he threatened to evict her from the motel room he offered her -- even locking her out of the room without warning to prove his point.
His threats extended as far as him blackmailing her, saying he would report the woman's drug use to law enforcement or child welfare agencies, according to DOJ officials.
Prosecutors said Tiwari eventually began to regularly evict the victim and required her to perform oral sex on him to stay.
"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," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in the news release.
Tiwari's sentencing is set for Sept. 6. He faces 20 years in prison as well as a $250,000 fine. According to the DOJ, Tiwari agreed to pay about $40,000 in mandatory restitution to the victims of offense as part of his plea deal.
Anyone who has information about human trafficking should report it to the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free at 1-888-373-7888, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.