A 36-year-old man from Egg Harbor Township, N.J., spent the summer of 2012 attacking women in Atlantic City, officials said - sexually assaulting them, threatening them with a fake gun, and choking them.
Hiten Patel was sentenced Thursday to 46 years in prison for aggravated sexual assault, impersonating a law enforcement officer, terroristic threats, and other charges, the Atlantic County Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.
Patel said during the two-week-long trial that he had an addiction to prostitutes, paying about 200 of them beginning in 2008 or 2009, the Atlantic City Press reported.
A jury convicted Patel in February 2014 of attacks on five of the seven women whom prosecutors had accused him of assaulting.
"Today's sentence shows that all of these women, no matter what their life circumstances, are entitled to the same basic rights that all of us enjoy - the equal protection of the law," John Flammer, the assistant prosecutor who worked the case, said in a statement.
"Whatever their past, present, or future, they are no less worthy of that protection than anyone else," he said.
Patel said most of the women were prostitutes paid for consensual sex, the Prosecutor's Office said.
He denied he used an imitation gun to threaten the women.
One woman, an 18-year-old from Delaware who said she was not a prostitute, testified that Patel had offered her a ride to a bus station. When she got in his van, Patel locked the doors, threatened her, and pulled out the fake gun, the woman said.
She said she escaped by jumping out of the van as it was moving.
Another victim, a 21-year-old from Camden County, said Patel had pretended to be an undercover police detective, showing her a badge and ordering her into his van.
Patel threatened her with his imitation gun and then assaulted her, she testified.
Atlantic City police officers saw her escaping from the van. They helped her and arrested Patel.
Inside the van, they found the badge, a security ID from Patel's former job with a contractor with the Federal Aviation Administration.
Officers also found the toy gun, which they said was altered to look real.