Prostitution sting nabs 8 in Worthington
WORTHINGTON — Eight people have been arrested for allegedly soliciting undercover police for sexual activities as a result of a sting operation going back to July.
Police said at least two more people may be charged.
They also say no sexual acts were done for money because in each case the suspects were in contact with investigators.
The names of those charged were obtained through district court records:
Joshua Paul Sasse, 25, of Sarver; Thomas C. Upholster, 41, of Greensburg; Douglas A. Borello, 52, of Brackenridge; Bradley Joseph Schry, 52, of Indiana; Steven Anthony Chowan, 28, of North Huntington; Alphonse G. Gladysiewski, 66, of Kittanning; Robert Clifford Wellman, 58, of Butler; Andrew P. Warner, 30, of Kittanning.
All are facing a misdemeanor charge of solicitation of prostitution and other related offenses and a summary charge of disorderly conduct.
Worthington Police Chief William DeForte said on Wednesday that the first sting operation was set up in July after police began receiving anonymous tips from concerned locals about suspicious activity in the parking lot bordering Route 422 in the borough.
People reported seeing young women, who were not known to the area, getting in and out of parked vehicles.
DeForte said police did not have any proof of criminal action concerning those reports and no arrests were made in connection with the reports.
However, in an effort to discover if people were actually traveling to the area seeking prostitutes, DeForte said, the police department placed an ad on an Internet escort service website using a photo of a fully clothed undercover female officer.
“It was not an ad for prostitution, but a basic escort ad,” said DeForte.
“That was the medium we used since it's common knowledge that prostitutes operate under the guise of escort services.”
“The Internet is the new street corner,” he said.
The undercover officer, who asked not to be identified, said within 24 hours of the ad being posted, she received 99 missed calls and around 204 text messages.
She said during the sting operations she would meet with the suspects at a location in the borough, and that her fellow officers were always close by and had visual contact with her the entire time.
“I felt very safe and secure,” she said.
All the criminal complaints of those charged show the same basic pattern:
The undercover officer received either a text message or phone call on a cell phone from the alleged John and a meeting was arranged.
During conversation between the two parties, the alleged John would ask the officer for sexual favors in exchange for money.
Once the money was handed over authorities stepped in to make the arrest.
“We were surprised at the amount of calls we've received,” said DeForte.
He said rural communities are not immune to criminal elements once associated mainly with urban areas. Criminal activities have evolved with the growth of the Internet.
Police are always trying to find ways to stay one step ahead of the criminals, he said.
Crimes associated with prostitution often target vulnerable minors as well as adults and are often mixed up in cases involving kidnapping, murder and human trafficking, said DeForte.
“In its most basic form it's a health hazard,” said DeForte. “Any community would not want their husbands, brothers, sons purchasing prostitutes. We're simply not going to tolerate this type of activity in our community.”
Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or email@example.com.