California hoteliers indicted on prostitution racketeering charges

OCEANSIDE, CALIFORNIA The owners of a California Travelodge have been indicted on federal charges of facilitating a prostitution ring in conjunction with street gangs.

Hitesh and Vinod Patel, owners and operators of Oceanside Travelodge, are accused by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation of knowingly allowing prostitution to occur on the premises and assigning guestrooms in more secluded areas of the hotel so as to be “segregated from legitimate customers,” authorities allege.

Furthermore, the indictment accuses the Patels of charging higher room rates to known members of the Oceanside Crips street gang in exchange for their use of the hotel for criminal activity. Finally, the Patels are accused of alerting gang members and prostitutes to law enforcement activity and investigative inquiry.

Along with the Patels, the company that owns the hotel, Gayatri Investments LLC, is also indicted. The FBI seeks the forfeiture of the hotel, and the defendants face up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to US$250,000, if convicted.