DANBURY, Conn. (WTIC and AP) – A Connecticut businessman charged in a sex trafficking ring has rejected a plea deal that would have allowed him to avoid prison time.

Bruce Bemer was arrested last year and charged with patronizing a trafficked person in connection with what authorities called a long-running human trafficking ring based in Danbury. Authorities say some victims were young people with mental illnesses.

Bemer rejected an offer of probation Wednesday and opted for trial by jury. If convicted, he could face up to 30 years in prison.

Bemer’s attorney, Anthony Spinella, said the prosecution has issues with its witnesses, two of whom have died.

Assistant State’s Attorney Sharmese Hodge declined to comment.

Bemer owns the New London-Waterford Speedbowl and Bemer Petroleum Corporation in Glastonbury.

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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