The owner of a Connecticut short track was arrested this week for his part in a human-trafficking ring in which young men with mental illnesses were brought to him and paid for sex acts, local station News 8 reported. NASCAR dropped the sanctions for its regional touring series at the track soon after.
The dropped NASCAR sanctions, effective immediately, include those for the Whelen Modified Tour and the Whelen All-American Series at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl, a Twitter account representing the sanctioning body’s regional tracks announced Thursday morning.
Police arrested the Speedbowl’s owner, petroleum business owner Bruce Bemer, on March 30, News 8 reported. Police charged both Bemer, 63, and an accomplice, with patronizing a trafficked person. Their arrests came after the arrest of Robert King, an alleged customer of Bemer’s who was charged with promoting prostitution.
According to News 8, the FBI entered the investigation in January of 2016. The station reports that Bemer refused to comment on the situation while leaving court the week of his arrest, and that those at his business would not discuss the charges either.
But here’s what police say about the situation:
According to police, Robert King, who was already arrested in connection with this case back in August of 2016, and William Trefzger were operating a prostitution ring. The two men recruited young males and delivered them to Bruce Bemer, and others, for prostitution.
According to the arrest warrant, Robert King, going back approximately 20 years, sought out young men with varying degrees of psychological disabilities for the purpose of using these individuals for prostitution. The arrest warrant goes on to say King would fraudulently befriend the young males. He would offer them work, food, money, and other fake inducements, as well as providing them with illegal drugs to the point that they were financially indebted to him.
According to the station, the arrest warrant continues by saying that King had the men “pay off the debt they owed him” by trading sex for money in Danbury, Connecticut. Bemer said he paid around $200 per occasion and the warrant said the men appeared to be mentally ill, according to News 8.
A judge set Bemer’s bond at $500,000. The outlet reports that he was bonded out and will appear in count again on April 26.
The Speedbowl website states the track, a three-eights-mile asphalt oval, opened in 1951. Bemer took it over prior to the 2015 season.
According to the Hartford Courant, two men claiming to be victims in the trafficking are seeking the freeze the assets of both Bemer and Trefzger. If successful, the asset freeze would prevent Bemer from selling the speedway and his fuel company in order to pay any legal debt.
Thanks for the email, Jim!