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Articles Posted in Escort Services, Prostitution and Unlicensed Massage

As long as the world’s oldest profession is profitable, the police and prosecutors will continue to go on the offensive to busting up and tearing down escort and prostitution rings. Unfortunately for Kenneth Fuina and Shawana Smith, they were the targets of such an investigation by the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office that spanned two years. Now, Fuina and Smith are sitting in a White Plains jail cell on $100,000 bail each and facing the charge of Promoting Prostitution in the Third Degree, a class “D” felony punishable by up to 2 and 1/3 to 7 years in state prison. A third defendant, Genevieve Peattie, was released from jail but is charged with a misdemeanor of Prostitution.

According to reports, it is alleged that Kenneth Fuina and Shawana Smith ran a website for high end call girls charging between $600 to $2000 for one or more hours of “GFE” or a full service sexual encounter otherwise known as “Girl Friend Experience.” The girls were recruited and their services were offered through a website, www.discreetcompanions.moonfruit.com. Once a client contacted Fuina or Smith, it is alleged that the girls were sent out to hotels in Westchester cities such as White Plains, Rye, Rye Brook and Tarrytown.

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The various sections of the criminal code addressing Promoting Prostitution, pursuant to New York Penal Law sections 230.20, 230.25, 230.30 and 230.32, set forth some of the most serious crimes relating to Prostitution (Penal Law 230.00) in New York State. As a former Manhattan prosecutor and criminal defense attorney who has prosecuted offenders and represented those accused of Prostitution related offenses, I have seen these statutes in action. While the reasons why and the logic behind the severity in which these crimes are pursued by law enforcement is a discussion for another day, it should be overwhelmingly clear to anyone who may be involved in these crimes – the NYPD and the District Attorney’s Offices throughout New York City take these offenses very seriously.

Dealing specifically with the crime of Promoting Prostitution, this blog entry will address each degree of this offense and the potential punishment associated with the crimes. Before doing so, however, you need to have a basic understanding of some terms as follows:

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From Andrew Cuomo to Robert Morgenthau, state and local prosecutors continue to vigorously prosecute crimes relating to Prostitution, Permitting Prostitution, and Promoting Prostitution. NY criminal defense attorneys experienced in these crimes, such as the criminal defense lawyers and former prosecutors at Crotty Saland PC, know that these offenses are only the tip of the iceburg. More significant crimes of Enterprise Corruption and Money Laundering lurk behind every corner where crews and organizations run these large scale escort enterprises. Case in point…the unsealed indictment in Queens County against seven alleged co-conspirators who ran “Room Service Entertainment.”

The 47 Count indictment unsealed today against Scott “Sal” Rosenberg, 45; Patricia “Nikki” Krupa, 32; Josef Davenport, 31; Joanna “Anna” Mercado, 24; Sylvia “Jamie” Soto, 29; Lina “Tina” Vazquez; and Barbara “Lisa” Morris, 48, accuses each of the individuals with Enterprise Corruption and related crimes. Enterprise Corruption requires that an organization have an “ascertainable structure” and is punishable by up to 25 years in state prison. Both Rosenberg and Davenport are alleged to be the mind and money behind the operation and ran the crew.

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Prosecutors, police and criminal defense attorneys in NY have known for a long time that prostitution, unlicensed massage, and other crimes relating to escort services have flourished on Craigslist. Due to pressure by numerous states and law enforcement agencies, Craigslist will no longer be permitting prostitution and escort services to be blatantly advertised on their website without scrutiny.

According to media reports, Craigslist executives informed Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal that the “erotic services” section would be removed in approximately one week and it would be replaced with an “adult services” section. Moreover, each advertisement will be reviewed by Craiglist to prevent the further proliferation of prostitution and escort related activities and materials.

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The New York criminal defense attorneys at Crotty Saland PC take each and every criminal case seriously whether the case involves a misdemeanor charge of Harassment or a felony charge of Grand Larceny. Our results speak for themselves. We recognize that regardless of how “small” the case may appear to be in the scheme of the entire criminal justice system, to the accused and our criminal defense attorneys, each case is priority matter.

Recently, the attorneys at Crotty Saland achieved what may appear to be a small victory, but one that was hard fought over a period of months. Our client, a former employee at a one of the world’s largest media companies, was accused of Prostitution as a “high end girl.” After drafting a memorandum similar to a Clayton motion bearing out why the District Attorney’s Office should offer a disposition different than the standard offer, the prosecutor assigned to the case agreed to offer such a disposition. However, although our client accepted the offer, upon going to court to accept the plea someone other than the assigned prosecutor changed the offer. A supervisor refused to make the original offer despite the previous agreement. Therefore, our client was unable to obtain the agreed upon disposition and the case was adjourned.

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As NY criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors, my partner and I at Crotty Saland PC have seen a whole lot of “interesting things.” Usually, with a little research and effort, we can find the answer to the vast majority of issues and questions we are confronted with. However, the analysis of Natalie Dylan’s auctioning of her virginity is definitely the first time (and I guess last and only for her) I have ever come across something like this. So, the question that stands out is whether this is Prostitution and Escorting in “sheep’s clothing” or a legal and fine “transaction?”

As I have explained before, Prostitution occurs if you engage or agree or offer to engage in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee. What complicates this matter is that obviously Ms. Dylan is not in NY so the laws of her state are different. But, what about the person who makes an offer or has an acceptable bid (I’m guessing it will take at least $3.5 million dollars, a toyota prius, a bag of Snyder’s Pretzels and a romantic dinner date with Larry Flynt)? Is that person guilty of Patronizing a Prostitute? One is guilty in NY of Patronizing a Prostitute when, among other things, he solicits, offers, or agrees to have sexual conduct with another person in exchange for a fee.

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The experienced NY criminal defense attorneys at Crotty Saland PC can tell you that it is not merely the “John” and the escort or prostitute that may be liable for prostitution or a prostitution related crime. In fact, if you allow your premises to be used for escorts who provide “GFE” services and prostitution, you may be guilty of Permitting Prostitution, pursuant to NY Penal Law 230.40, even if you were never directly involved in the offense.

A person is guilty of Permitting Prostitution when that person, having possession or control of a premises which he or she knows is being used for prostitution purposes, fails to make reasonable efforts to halt or abate such use.

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Individuals charged in New York with the crime of Prostitution, Penal Law Section 230.00, have to offer to or actually engage in “sexual conduct” as defined by both statutes and case law. In the Kings County (Brooklyn) Criminal Court case of People. v. Georgia A., 163 Misc.2d 634 (N.Y.City Crim.Ct.,1994), a NY criminal defense attorney successfully argued before a criminal court judge that his client should be acquitted after the prosecution failed to establish any “sexual conduct” existed in an “S & M” and dominatrix case.

In this particular matter the defendant met with an undercover police officer after they arranged for the appointment over the phone (this pre-dated Craig’s List and Backpage). The agreement between the two was for an “S & M” experience. Upon meeting, the undercover asked what he would get in exchange for $100 and the defendant informed him that he would receive “S &M” for that fee. Although the money was not exchanged at that time, the defendant changed her outfit. During this time, the undercover observed various videos and other items including whips and toys.

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In the realm of Prostitution, Promoting Prostitution, Solicitation and crimes relating to Escort Services,New York criminal defense attorneys often have to think out of the box to fight every battle for their client. Sometimes they are successful and sometimes they are not. One way to challenge a case is through a “Clayton” motion where a criminal defense attorney seeks the dismissal of a criminal case in the interest of justice. This motion can be made whether the case is for Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in Manhattan, Petit Larceny in Brooklyn, or Forgery in the Bronx. In fact, I have had tremendous success with similar applications on very serious matters where clients had faced felonies but had the charges reduced to the point where they had the opportunity to escape any criminal record at all.

In the past year, one criminal attorney, who should be applauded for his efforts, attempted to have his client’s Prostitution charge dismissed in the interest of justice. Unfortunately for his client, he was unsuccessful. In People v. Saori Sato, 2007CN004865, New York County (Manhattan) Criminal Court Judge Richard Weinberg denied the criminal defense attorney’s motion. The attorney argued that “prostitution is a victimless crime in which two equal contracting parties negotiate for the performance of an act proscribed in private by consenting adults.”

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Recently, on September 8, 2008, I commented on People v. Magali Rodriguez. In that matter, a New York criminal defense attorney challenged the legal sufficiency of a complaint charging the defendant with Prostitution. Specifically, the challenge was based on the fact that a third party negotiated the financial transaction. In finding the complaint (it’s actually called an “information”) legally sufficient, the Court stated that the defendant herself need not be the one to offer the sexual conduct and discuss the financial transaction. What must be reviewed is the “totality of the circumstances.”

On a similar note, another recent decision from New York (Manhattan) Criminal Court in January 2008, People v. Heesuk Choi, 2007NY085556, reveals that courts may be getting stricter in their enforcement of Prostitution and related crimes. In that matter, an undercover police officer was in a “brothel” or “house of prostitution” where five women (one was the defendant), who did not speak, were paraded out to him. The undercover agreed on a price with a madam and was asked to pick a girl.

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