2nd prostitution case linked this year to a Pittsburgh officer

| Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011

Investigators are trying to determine whether a Pittsburgh officer accused of promoting prostitution this week is connected to two former city detectives charged in a prostitution case in Moon earlier this year.

Allegheny County police charged Michael Johns, 43, of Brookline with insurance fraud, making false reports to law enforcement, possession with intent to deliver, promoting prostitution and other crimes. He was arraigned and released on his own recognizance on Monday.

"We're anxious to go to court to address this with attorneys and get to a positive conclusion," Johns told the Tribune-Review. He referred further comment to his attorneys, Phil DiLucente and James Ecker.

Pittsburgh police placed Johns on paid administrative leave Tuesday. On April 26, the department transferred him from the city's Hill District station to the warrant office. That was two days after Brentwood police stopped a man driving a Cadillac rented in Johns' name that police said contained drug and sexual paraphernalia. An unidentified woman in the car told police Johns is her boyfriend and that she performs "sexual fetish shows ... in exchange for money," according to a criminal complaint filed against Johns. The woman had Johns' identification card in her purse, the complaint said.

She told police Johns rented vehicles and let her use them to do "shows and deals." He gave her cell phones, the complaint said. Police linked Johns' address and financial accounts to online ads containing statements such as, "Looking for a classy girl• We're the cream of the crop. Spend the night with us until 6 am, xoxo," the complaint said.

Earlier this year, Moon police charged two former award-winning Pittsburgh police detectives with posting online sex ads and acting as security and providing transportation for prostitutes. In March police arrested Talib "Kevin" Ghafoor, 55, of East Liberty during an undercover bust at the Courtyard Marriott in Moon and charged him with promoting prostitution, conspiracy and possessing instruments of a crime.

In that case, police set up a meeting with a woman identified in an online sex ad as "Sally." The woman, whom police identified as Sabina Sailer, 43, of Venice, Fla., said the man who drove her to the hotel was waiting outside. She said he was her fiance and a former Pittsburgh officer, Moon police Chief Leo McCarthy said. Officers arrested Ghafoor in the parking lot.

In June police arrested Faquar "Terry" Holland, 39, of Charleroi, after records from an adult services website showed his phone number and credit card were used in connection with online sex ads along with those of Ghafoor.

County police are looking into whether Johns was working with Holland and Ghafoor, Allegheny County police Superintendent Charles Moffatt said.

"We have nothing to connect all three of them," Moffatt said. "We know they knew each other on the job, but we have nothing to definitively say they were ever connected in any criminal activity at this point."

McCarthy declined to comment on the case.

"They were colleagues at one time, just like the 850 other colleagues he works with," DiLucente said.

The driver of the rented Cadillac, who has not been charged, had a small piece of paper on a key ring and shoestring in his pocket with the name "Alivia Kail" written on it, the complaint said. Kail is the 19-year-old Mt. Washington woman who has been missing since March when she left her brother's home and said she was going to Florida with her boyfriend. Moffatt said police have no evidence connecting Johns to Kail's disappearance.

The unidentified woman in the Cadillac and another unnamed witness told police Johns gave them money to buy heroin, drove them to buy heroin, allowed them to shoot up in his apartment, the complaint said.

Detectives said they followed Johns as he drove two people to the North Side in a cab on Saturday where they purchased heroin. DiLucente said Johns works as a driver for Yellow Cab to "make ends meet." In 2010, Johns earned a base pay of about $63,000 and more than $95,000 in gross wages.

"We deny each and every allegation," DiLucente said.

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