NEW YORK — A Long Island man used the basement of his parents' sprawling suburban home as a sex trafficking dungeon, enticing women with drugs and locking them in the basement where they were forced to use a bucket instead of a bathroom, prosecutors said Thursday.
Raymond Rodio III, 47, used illegal drugs, violence, and locks to keep the women he'd snared in the scheme trapped within it.
His father, however, who owns and lives in the home, was so strongly convinced that his son was not operating a prostitution ring that he gave PIX11 News a tour of his basement.
"I know he was selling drugs," Raymond Rodio, Jr. said. "Anything else, I don't know, okay?"
He spoke with PIX11 News from the front porch of his home on Rocky Point Landing Road.
"He only lives in a 10 by 12 room," the father continued. "So you tell me how he's got a prostitution ring going on."
The father said that the best way to gauge whether or not the allegations were true was to tour the basement.
A walk through the garage into the basement revealed a paneled room with a double bed in it, with dozens of well-maintained model train cars on shelving anchored to the walls.
There was no bathroom, but, the father said, his son used the bathroom upstairs. As for detectives' allegations, "As far as I know, there was no sex trafficking here," Rodio said.
By contrast, Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini said on Thursday that the situation in the suburban ranch-style home's basement was far worse than meets the eye.
"He used the basement of his parents' home as a dungeon," Sini said, following an initial court appearance for Rodio III, in which Rodio, a former high school athlete and West Point dropout, was charged with 14 counts of violent sex trafficking, sex trafficking, and promoting prostitution.
Sini said that, between 2014 and this year, Rodio lured more than 20 women into his sex ring with free drugs. He'd initially meet the women, all in their 20s, on the Backpage and Craigslist websites. Once it was evident that the women were addicted and dependent on him, he'd force them to have sex with other men for money, which he'd keep.
"He would hold their addictions over their heads to get them to work for him," Sini said.
The conditions under which the women were kept, said the D.A., were deplorable.
"There were no showers, no bathroom," he said. "[The women] were forced to use a bucket as a toilet."
When PIX11 News asked Rodio's father about those allegations, he responded, while in the basement room, "I'm showing you now. This is live. This is it."
"I don't need this problem," he continued. "I have enough of a problem with him, so many years with him taking drugs and everything."
Some neighbors said that they'd seen women from time to time come and go from the home, and that at least one of the women "was very thin."
Otherwise, nothing had seemed very out of place, according to one contractor who lives nearby. The reason for the lack of conspicuousness is tragic.
"I wouldn't doubt it," he told PIX11 News. "There's a lot of drugs around here."
Investigators said that Rodio had kept his life beyond drugs secret from his family. However, said investigators, Rodio was known to them.
He was taken into custody during a traffic stop, Sini said. The officers who'd arrested him were trained in spotting evidence of human trafficking. When they saw that Rodio was with a much younger woman who was unrelated to him, they began an investigation. Their conclusions were agreed with by a grand jury on Thursday.
"This is a dangerous and depraved individual," the district attorney said.
Rodio pled not guilty. He's being held on $1 million cash bail. If he's found guilty, he faces up to 25 years in prison.