River Falls man indicted for forced labor
WASHINGTON – An indictment was unsealed January 19 in the Western District of Wisconsin charging a Wisconsin man with one count of labor trafficking.
According to the indictment, between August 2020 and Aug. 5, 2022, Austin Koeckeritz, 29, River Falls, Wisconsin, used force, threats of force and coercion, to cause an adult woman to engage in forced labor for nearly two years.
The charge of forced labor carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, up to five years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin Timothy M. O’Shea and Special Agent in Charge Michael E. Hensle of the FBI Milwaukee Field Office made the announcement.
The FBI Milwaukee Field Office and the River Falls Police Department conducted the investigation. The Pierce County District Attorney’s Office provided assistance.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Taylor Kraus for the Western District of Wisconsin and Trial Attorneys Slava Kuperstein and Julie Pfluger of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit are prosecuting the case.
The FBI is asking anyone with information about Austin Koeckeritz to contact the FBI Milwaukee Field Office at (414) 276-4684. If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.