Joseph Ferreri, a Utah man previously accused of human trafficking and involvement in a prostitution ring, has filed a lawsuit against the City of American Fork and an officer with the American Fork Police Department. Ferreri claims that the allegations made against him were racist and had a detrimental impact on his life.
According to the lawsuit, Ferreri was arrested in February 2021 after being accused of being part of an international sex trafficking ring. However, all charges against Ferreri and the others accused were later dropped before the case went to trial.
Ferreri asserts that his only crime was being married to a Chinese woman, Juying Wang, who was also arrested. He explains that he would often drop off and pick up his wife at the massage parlor where she worked since they shared one car. The couple got married in Texas in 2017, two years prior to the human trafficking allegations.
Ferreri’s lawsuit claims that the arresting officer, Shawn Lott, made generalizations and stereotypical assessments leading up to the allegations and arrests. The lawsuit cites Lott’s request for a search warrant, where he allegedly generalized that “Most, if not all, Asian massage businesses operate the same.” Lott also allegedly made false and unsubstantiated representations about Ferreri, including claiming he was uncooperative and lying.
The lawsuit further alleges that investigators failed to confirm Wang as Ferreri’s wife, despite the availability of records from Texas. Ferreri states that the allegations had severe consequences, including losing his job at the Utah State Prison and his opportunity to reach a 20-year pension. He also lost his health insurance, which resulted in substantial medical bills after a heart attack went unnoticed.
Ferreri is seeking compensation for economic damages and emotional distress caused by the allegations, claiming violations of his constitutional rights.