Share This Page

Police arrest at least 9 in prostitution sting in Pittsburgh

| Saturday, June 21, 2014, 9:33 a.m.

A woman arrested on Friday on charges of prostitution told police that she traveled to Pittsburgh with her husband and children and left them at a Green Tree hotel while she went to work as an escort, Pittsburgh police said on Saturday.

Jessica Banks, 32, of Toledo, Ohio, was one of nine women arrested on prostitution or prostitution-related charges in a sting that was conducted by city police detectives, along with the FBI's Human Trafficking Task Force, the Allegheny County District Attorney's Task Force, the state Attorney General's Office, federal probation officers and the Allegheny County Sheriff's Department.

FBI spokesman Greg Heeb said information about the arrests was expected to be released on Monday.

Police sent responses to several online escort ads, asking the women to meet them at a city hotel. Once there, according to the complaints, eight women, all between the ages of 23 and 32, offered to perform sexual acts on undercover officers for prices ranging from $200 to $500.

Eight women were charged with prostitution. One of them, Michelle D. Skoupil, 24, of Upper St. Clair, faces drug possession charges. She's awaiting a hearing on prostitution charges filed against her by Jefferson Hills police on May 15.

A ninth woman, Heather West, 38, of Esplen, was charged with promoting prostitution.

West told police that she only accompanied Heather McGure, 23, of Hampton to the hotel room “to make sure she is safe. I'm her security,” according to the criminal complaint. Police charged McGure with prostitution and criminal conspiracy.

Nichole Webster, 25, of Toledo told police that she prefers to conduct business in Pittsburgh because she makes more money here than in Cleveland or Toledo, according to the criminal complaint. Webster told police that she had no other way to make a living.

Banks and Courtney R. Pena, 32, also of Toledo, arrived at the hotel room together, according to complaints. After Banks' arrest, police wrote, officers went to her hotel and found the children were safe and in good health. Her husband, who was not named, was aware of the arrests, according to the documents.

Jessica Oliver, 23, of Carrick, who was charged on Friday, is awaiting trial on prostitution-related charges from April, according to court records. Also arrested were Jennifer A. Mezik, 25, of Scranton and Allecia N. Brown, 29, of Copperas, Texas.

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.