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Ex-N.J. strip club manager becomes fugitive after being convicted in drugging, rape

NJ.com logo NJ.com 7/1/2022 Noah Cohen, nj.com

The former manager of a New Jersey strip club was a fugitive Thursday after a jury convicted him this week for his role in the repeated rape of a dancer, who was drugged before the video-recorded sex assaults, prosecutors said.

Luis Guzman, 43, of Clifton, allegedly encouraged the Nov. 5, 2012 rapes and recorded more than an hour of the abuse at Mr. B’s Gentlemen’s Club in Passaic, according to Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes.

The dancer was drugged by one of the mangers, leaving her “mentally incapacitated and physically helpless,” and assaulted by six people during an after-hours party at the Wall Street club, the prosecutor said.

A Passaic County jury on Wednesday convicted Guzman of aggravated sexual assault, conspiracy to commit the assaults, being an accomplice to sexual assault and multiple related offenses following a four-week trial.

Guzman was in court for testimony in his trial but failed to appear for closing arguments and jury deliberation, according to Valdes. His bail was revoked after the verdict and a judge issued a warrant for his arrest. A defense attorney listed for Guzman could not be immediately reached.

Co-defendants Michael Ramirez and Trystal Lozada were previously convicted in the case and sentenced to 30 and 20 years in state prison, respectively, prosecutors said. Another co-defendant, Miguel Delacruz, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the woman and was sentenced to 12 years behind bars.

A fourth person, Ashley Maldonado, also pleaded guilty and was scheduled to be sentenced for her role in the crimes in October.

Two remaining men charged in the sex assault, Brian Guzman and Fernando Vaquero, fled before trial in 2016 and remain at large, according to authorities.

Prosecutors noted the woman reported the assaults to Passaic police within 12 hours and underwent a toxicology and sexual assault exam at a local hospital. Investigators also recovered video footage from the attacks, which was presented as evidence to the jury.

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Noah Cohen may be reached at ncohen@njadvancemedia.com.

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