December 18, 2020
CORNING, NY – Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker called it “shocking”. According to Baker, There are five suspects: Larry Comfort Sr, Elmira Heights, Larry Comfort Jr, Elmira Heights, Jonathan Hamilton, Corning, Michael Stratton, Corning and Steve Maio, Corning. Steve Maio is a member of the Steuben County Legislature. Maio, along with a father and son from Elmira Heights, and two others, have been charged for allegedly being involved with a sex trafficking ring, some of them are accused of providing cocaine in exchange for prostitution, the alleged leader of the group is accused of plotting to kill a witness. Larry Comfort Sr, Larry Comfort Jr, Jonathan Hamilton and Steve Maio are all charged with Enterprise Corruption (intentionally committing felony offenses and participating in a pattern of criminal activity.) Stratton is charged with one count of sex trafficking, by providing narcotics.
Steve Maio has been charged with falsifying business records in the 1st degree, forgery in the 2nd degree, Maio has entered a not guilty plea, as have all the suspects in this case so far.
Larry Comfort Sr is the one who is accused of conspiring to kill a witness and all of the other charges involved in the case as well. The witness said to have been planned to have been killed, was said not to be a sex trafficking victim/prostitute. There is also a endangering the welfare of a child charge, District Attorney Brooks Baker says that is because a minor, was present, during one of the activities. Larry Comfort Sr is said to be at the center of the investigation, the others are co-defendants. Comfort Sr is also accused of selling cocaine. Comfort Jr is accused of promoting prostitution and sex trafficking.
One of the suspects, Jonathan Hamilton of Elmira, is said to have tried to run away from New York State Police while being apprehended, officials say that Hamilton was caught quickly after a brief chase on foot. Hamilton is in Steuben County Jail without bail, as is Larry Comfort Sr. Michael Stratton and Steve Maio were released on their own recognizance.
“This is not the type of case we expect in places like Steuben and Chemung Counties,” said Steuben County District Attorney Books Baker. “Sex trafficking and criminal enterprise are supposed to be urban problems – this investigation proves that simply isn’t the case, that it can happen anywhere, even in our own communities.” D.A. Brooks Baker also states that there was a year of investigating this alleged ring, a year that included surveillance of the suspects.
According to D.A. Brooks Baker, the New York State Special Investigations Unit received the first tip about this ring, and then the Special Investigations Unit brought in the NYSP Violent Gangs/Narcotics Enforcement Team, the Elmira City Police Drug Enforcement Unit and Painted Post State Troopers.
The press release issued by the Steuben County District Attorney ends with the statement: “If you have been a victim of sex trafficking or have information pertaining to individuals charged, please contact the NYSP Rochester Office Of The Special Investigations Unit at 585-529-3660. All information will be kept confidential.