A Cartersville motel manager has been sentenced to 57 months in prison for trafficking a victim for peonage, slavery, involuntary servitude or forced labor and ordered to pay $42,648 in restitution to seven individuals.
According to court documents, Shreesh Tiwari, 71, an Indian national and legal U.S. permanent resident, began managing the Budgetel Motel in Cartersville, Georgia, in 2020. Shortly thereafter, Tiwari hired the victim to work as a maid at the motel and provided her with a room where she could live. Tiwari knew that, prior to arriving at the motel, the victim had experienced homelessness, struggled with 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. He also discouraged the victim from communicating with her family and friends, falsely claiming that they did not care about her. Tiwari began making numerous sexual overtures to the victim. When Tiwari became angry at the victim, he threatened to evict her from the room he provided her at the motel, knowing that she would become homeless as a result. In addition, Tiwari threatened to report the victim’s drug use to law enforcement or child welfare agencies whenever he was angry at the victim. 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 even threatened to call animal control to remove the victim’s dog despite permitting the victim’s dog to live with the victim in her motel room at first. Ultimately, Tiwari required the victim to perform sex acts with him to stay at the motel. If she did not, Tiwari removed her from the property, causing her to be homeless.
“Human trafficking can occur anywhere since traffickers are adept at identifying someone’s vulnerabilities and often fraudulently extend hope to someone looking for an opportunity to improve their dire circumstances,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This sentence and the restitution secured for the survivors of this heinous labor trafficking scheme make clear that the Justice Department is committed to prosecuting anyone who flagrantly exploits their position of power. We will tirelessly seek restitution on behalf of the victims that traffickers callously exploit.”
“Tiwari used his position of power to ruthlessly abuse a victim he knew had already suffered immeasurably,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan for the Northern District of Georgia. “The level of this defendant’s callousness is shocking. But we are thankful that our community is now safer, and other potential victims spared, due to the excellent investigative work of our federal, state and local law enforcement partners who made Tiwari’s conviction possible. Our office also intends for Tiwari’s prosecution and sentence to provide a stark warning to other traffickers that these crimes carry especially serious penalties on account of the lasting harm done to victims and their families.”
“Tiwari preyed upon the victim’s difficult past and fear of homelessness to control and extort her, subjecting her to unspeakable horrors,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Travis Pickard of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Atlanta. “HSI Atlanta and our law enforcement partners will continue our efforts to ensure that predators like Mr. Tiwari will be held accountable for their actions.”
The HSI 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 prosecuted the case.
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 Justice Department’s efforts to combat human trafficking can be found at www.justice.gov/humantrafficking.