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Southwest Regional Police vice squad sets up prostitution sting

| Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 12:36 a.m.
John Hartman is the chief of the Southwest Regional Police,one of two regional departments in the Mid-Mon Valley.

A vice squad sting operation resulted in last week's arrest of a Greensburg man who was charged with attempting to solicit a woman for sex.

Police said Adam Grant Ross, of 517 Turney St., was actually soliciting a member of the Southwest Regional Police vice squad.

Ross, 29, was charged with prostitution/patronizing prostitute, criminal attempt and disorderly conduct. He was arrested by officers at 10:40 a.m. June 12 in Belle Vernon.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, members of the vice squad placed an advertisement on a social media site advertising sex in exchange for cocaine.

Ross allegedly responded to the post, “I don't have snow, but I have money to make it snow.” Later using email, Ross arranged for a meeting on Main Street in Belle Vernon, according to the affidavit.

He met with an undercover officer, allegedly giving the officer $100 and a condom, according to the affidavit.

Charges were filed Friday in the office of Magisterial District Judge Jesse Cramer in Belle Vernon. He remains free pending a formal arraignment scheduled for July 22.

The vice squad was formed about a year ago, Southwest Regional Police Chief John Hartman said. Its tasks include conducting comprehensive undercover investigations into drugs, child predators and sex crimes.

The vice squad, which conducts criminal investigations and gathers intelligence, is the base for all Internet-related investigations.

“Using social media, we are able to identify and address crime that's occurring through a number of avenues, including social media,” Hartman said. “The police are tapping into social media and Internet traffic. These are usually prolonged investigations used to apprehend people who use the Internet to commit crime.

The arrest of Ross was an example of the unit's work, Hartman said.

“He thought he was communicating with an individual offering him sex for money when in fact he was talking to one of our detectives,” Hartman said. “We arranged for the meeting, he met with us and we arrested him.”

Hartman said police later discovered that Ross was on Megan's List, “which further enhances the necessity for running these types of operations.”

Megan's List is a national website where convicted sex offenders must register their addresses and places of employment.

“Clearly, it's easy to navigate on the Internet highway,” Hartman said. “People don't realize the dangers of that Internet highway.

“The more and more we work these, the more we see how broad in scope it is. Not any particular heightened danger here. The danger is really everywhere.”

Chris Buckley is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2642 or cbuckley@tribweb.com.

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