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Web page ads lead to prostitution arrests

The internet is familiar to most people in Lackawanna County. Many use it to make purchases and to sell things. Some even use it for criminal purposes. In a recent state and federal investigation, a web site called "backpage.com" led police to five individuals who were arrested and charged with various sex crimes relating to prostitution.

According to police records, investigators found a total of 58 advertisements on the website over a two-day period that offered massages, escort services and similar services at several local motels. Police used the advertisements to set up sting operations. The persons placing the ad were contacted by police who used the phone numbers listed in the ads. Appointments were made for one or more of the advertised services, but instead of finding willing customers, the persons offering the services were confronted by police officers and arrested.

Four people were arrested at various times at a motel in Plains Township. A fifth person was charged by federal authorities with conspiring with others to use a 17-year-old girl to commit sex trafficking. All five are presently in custody. One is expected to sign a plea agreement, but the other four have denied any criminal conduct.

Prostitution, sex trafficking and solicitation of prostitution are serious crimes. Anyone facing charges for one or more of these crimes may find it useful to have a comprehensive criminal defense strategy. With the right help, people may be able to negotiate a favorable plea agreement or obtain an outright acquittal. In cases such as the ones described in this post, the penalties can be serious, so the defense should be too.

Source: Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader, "Five charged with prostitution offenses at area motels," Ed Lewis, July 14, 2015

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