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Blush dancers arrested in sting

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By Margaret Harding
Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Detectives conducting a sting operation arrested two dancers on suspicion of prostitution at a Downtown strip club that sued the city to provide police protection and could receive $25,000 in the case.

The arrests were made hours after Pittsburgh City Council on Wednesday delayed voting on a proposed settlement with Blush, which sued the city because acting police Chief Regina McDonald in March banned off-duty officers from providing security there.

“We take these allegations very seriously,” Blush attorney Jonathan Kamin said. “We're conducting our own investigation. We do not condone it and will not tolerate it on the premises.”

Pittsburgh police charged Emily Miller, 21, of Monroeville and Jessica Thomas, 24, of New Brighton on Thursday with prostitution and conspiracy.

“We got a couple of anonymous complaints that some girls were working as prostitutes,” vice Sgt. Cristyn Zett said. “The timing was circumstantial.”

Undercover officers went to Blush shortly after midnight and told Thomas it was the birthday of one of the men, police said. Thomas and Miller agreed to engage in sex acts in the “champagne room” for $220 each to make it a “really, really happy birthday,” according to criminal complaints against the women.

Police arrested the women in the club's lobby and found $384 in cash on them, the complaint said. Kamin said the women were terminated that night.

Zett said there wasn't a detail officer at the club when the dancers were arrested. Officers usually are stationed outside the club.

One Three Five Inc., which does business as Blush, claimed the ban on police details violated its constitutional rights. A federal judge in June overturned the ban. The city settlement would pay the club $25,000 for legal fees.

Council delayed the vote to give city attorneys time to brief members on the settlement's details. Council likely will consider the legislation next week, council President DarleneHarris said.

Zett said the vice squad occasionally does “spot checks” of strip clubs but couldn't remember any previous arrests at Blush. Police statistics show there have been no prostitution arrests at the business in at least the past 10 years.

The women were arraigned and released on their own recognizance from Allegheny County Jail. They have preliminary hearings scheduled Sept. 18.

Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or mharding@tribweb.com.

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