Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Boston-Area Prostitution Sting Endangers Child Custody As Well As Liberty

On November 6, 2009, Cambridge police officers undertook an expertly planned and brilliantly executed sting operation despite the obvious danger. Their bravery and expertise paid off. Now, the streets are safer as a result of the four resulting arrests. Well, not the streets, exactly. More like the hotel rooms from which the four alleged prostitutes were plucked and later introduced to criminal defense attorneys.

As most of you probably know, violent street crime and break-ins have all but vanished in Cambridge, which is why laws enforcement can now concentrate on these dangerous predators of the night.

A temporary headquarters for surveillance purposes was set up at a Massachusetts Avenue Hotel after one of Cambridge’s Finest, in an undercover capacity, threw caution to the wind and set up an appointment with a woman through personal ads in the Boston Phoenix. Through expertly demonstrated police work, he got her to agree to meet with him for the price of $200 an hour for “services”.

Finally it was 6:55pm – ShowTime.

Detectives positioned themselves outside the hotel when they saw…a woman. She was Hispanic and exited a black Nissan Armada driven by a man whom officials described as…black.

According to the undercover officer, the woman met him in one of the hotel rooms. At some point, things got a little hairy. For example, at one point, she asked him if he was a cop.

Relying on his years of police training, the undercover thought quick and answered, “No”.

He paid her the $200 and she made a call on her cell phone (presumably to her backup) to indicate she had been paid.

It was then that she began to remove some of her clothing.

Before the situation could get out of control, Detectives burst into the room and arrested the woman. She was found to be armed with two Lifestyle condoms, which the police reportedly confiscated.

By 7:29pm, the 36 year old woman was arrested for sexual conduct for a fee. From the car, investigators found further evidence…a piece of paper with handwriting and a Boston Phoenix advertisement. These were seized as evidence.

One might think that one act of such heroism is enough for one day. However, crime never sleeps and neither do society’s guardians. At that same time, other undercover teams were providing the same service to humanity.

At another location on Massachusetts Avenue, at approximately 7:11pm another arrest took place. In that case, an officer reportedly had answered an ad which offered a massage, priced at $260, from “#1 cute, petite & sweet college girls of Boston”. This time it was a 26 year old woman who met with the officer. The advertisement offered “Everything – full service,” meaning, the officers believe, oral sex to intercourse. To the officers, however, it meant arrest and incarceration. The officer gave her $260 in cash and our protectors stormed in and made their arrest. This time, it was a bottle of oil and a cell phone that were confiscated.

…And then there was the case of Kisha T., 39, of the Boston area (hereinafter, the “Defendant”). Justice did not come to her door until 9:32pm. For her, the experience might be a little more long-lasting.

Once again, there was an agreement to meet through the Phoenix and a fee of $250. As they met in a hotel room, the officer paid the money. The Defendant began to undress and asked the officer what his favorite thing to do was.

He declined the urge to say, “arrest” and, instead asked her the same question. She apparently answered, “Everything but Greek”, which the officer took not as a racial comment, but criminalspeak for anal sex.

It was then time for the pre-arranged signal and other officers came in and placed the Defendant under arrest. This time, two condoms and a cell phone were seized.

Officers then went to question the driver of the car the Defendant had arrived in and reportedly found a two-month-old baby in the back seat. The driver reportedly told them he was waiting for his girl. Of course, his driving was over for the night because he was found to have a suspended license and so was sent home by cab. The police then filed a 51A report that is required under state law when police suspect that a child is being neglected or abused or subject to endangerment.

Attorney Sam’s Take:

First of all, no, I am not “anti-cop”. Frankly, these officers were just doing their job. It is we, the people, who sit back and allow what I consider to be an arcane waste of resources and lives that raises my ire. Further, despite my sarcasm, this is a serious story which has a couple aspects you may want to keep in mind.

Not all the alleged prostitutes in the investigations were older, experienced women. One was 17 years old.

There are aspects to prostitution that , indeed, even I feel that law enforcement should be utilized to prevent or, at least, monitor. Children should not be allowed to be prostitutes and involuntary prostitution rings, which do exist, must be stopped. However, the majority of such sex workers are neither of those, and flashy headlines grabbing celebrations that trained professional law enforcement agents are able to trick a woman into offering sex in return to money and then arrest her with a bunch of their partners is not the way to combat them. It is a way to tell us that something is being done…without something being done.

Certain areas have matured and come to terms with this. They realized that the way to accomplish what law enforcement and politicians say we want is to legalize prostitution and regulate it. As a result, the sex workers are off the streets, disease is contained and the women are protected. Somehow, answering ads in the Phoenix and grabbing the women in the hotel rooms does not seem to accomplish those goals…although it makes spicy headlines.

Of course, there are also states like Rhode Island where, until recently, prostitution was not illegal if it took place behind closed doors. Zealots there are celebrating that they have now closed that “loop-hole” taking, in my opinion, a significant step backwards in true morality, if not evolution.

…And, yes, then there is the case of the Defendant. Aside from the above, she now gets another little added gift. The Department of Children and Families now must become involved and she now risks losing her child.

“Well, Sam, shouldn’t she? I mean, she was a prostitute.”

Well, if you find prostitutes to really be the hardened and vicious scourge they seem to be treated as, you may feel that way. However, if you want the light of reality to shine the situation, most of these sex workers are adults who have decided to make a living this way, particularly in these economically difficult times. They keep it off the streets and are, unless you go looking for them, discreet. The last I heard, the Boston Phoenix, fine institution as it is, was not required reading in schools. By the way, in terms of “safe sex”, did you notice the presence of condoms at the scene of the crimes?

On the flip side, once arrested, the workers get a criminal record, which will now brand them and, in many instances, ensure that they will not be hired or go to graduate school, for something else. In the case of the Defendant, they may also lose their kids.

Well, this is not supposed to be a political column, it is about the realities of criminal justice. And so, we end up at the same question, “What does this have to do with you“?

It is really the same as any crime, although there are some who seem to feel that it is less serious. It is very serious and, like any crime, the simple arrest can ruin your life. Therefore, it is important that, if you feel you are being investigated, or could be accused of a crime, including prostitution, you should engage experienced legal counsel. The attorney can advise you as to the law, perhaps look into any such investigation and, at the very least, defend you should charges come.

If you wish to discuss the matter me, please feel free to call me at (617) 206-1942.

And, in the meantime, tomorrow…I will preach alittle less.

For the full article upon which today’s blog is based, go to http://www.wickedlocal.com/cambridge/news/x255184644/Cambridge-Police-hotel-sting-operation-nets-prostitutes

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