Sunday, December 20, 2009

Craigslist used in undercover prostitution sting | NBC Augusta 26 | news, weather, sports, community, entertainment, shopping for Augusta, Georgia | Local News

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. - Seven men were arrested in a two day Prostitution Sting set up by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office's undercover team.

The sting started early Thursday morning and by Friday the following seven men were charged with pandering (soliciting prostitutes for sex): Charles Bradford English, Winston James O'Connell, Benjamin Tanner, Robert Barker, Steve Craig Terry, Gilberto Alvarez-Martinez and Nathan Kurt Heatwall Goering.

The team, including an undercover female, listed an ad on craigslist under the “adult services” section.

"The ad itself doesn't say I'm going to do this or that or anything, it just says adult services,” said one of the undercover investigators.

The investigators said posting a believable ad is easy; all they include is a picture and a phone number. There are dozens of ads for adult services in Georgia-Carolina.

In just a few hours Saturday six women put up new ads.

Several complaints regarding prostitution were made about a specific area in Columbia County. Because of the nature of the investigation officials would not way where the undercover team rented the hotel room.

"Shortly after [posting the ad] the phone began to ring and guys would ask her what the rates were for her services,” the undercover investigator said. "All the guys that set up the appointments and came asked for some type of sexual favor or sexual act for a set amount of money. Once they paid her, they were taken into custody.”

This is the third undercover prostitution sting the Columbia County Sheriff's Office has done this year.

The undercover investigator says all seven of the men are most likely back on the streets after posting a $1,300 bail.

The section now listed as “adult services” used to be called “erotic services.” Craigslist changed the name after Philip Markoff was arrested and charged with killing one of three women investigators say he solicited on their website earlier this year.


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