6.09.2006

I'm the end of the line

So, it looks as if my break from the sex industry just may be permanent.

Cops, using the Net, nab five in prostitution ring
Those arrested are accused of using Craigslist.com to push prostitution at motels in Plainview, Jericho

BY MICHAEL FRAZIER
Newsday Staff Writer

June 9, 2006

Millions of online users turn to the popular Craigslist.com Web site in search for a home, tickets or a car, but many also use it to find sex.

Understanding that, Nassau police routinely monitored the site and this week arrested five people accused of using it to advertise prostitution.

Police said they suspect dozens of so-called Johns in recent weeks answered the ads and met for sex at motels in Plainview and Jericho.

"This is an ongoing problem to Nassau County and the metropolitan area ... that the vice squad is attentive to," said Capt. Steven Skrynecki of the Nassau County Vice Squad. "It's a constant battle to keep this under control."

Numerous resident complaints and undercover operations led to the arrests of the five who appeared Thursday in First District Court in Hempstead, authorities said. Police said they all, except a man-and-woman team, acted independently.

Craigslist.com, a site allowing Internet users to peruse and post notices for free, has more than 10 million visitors each month, the site said.

Illegal sex-for-money ads can be found under the site's erotic section. Some are accompanied by lewd or sexually explicit language and pictures.

"We received quite a bit of calls from parents ... and from adults themselves who ... find this to be offensive," Skrynecki said "It's a fine line in promoting prostitution and allowing advertisement."

Craigslist's founder, Craig Newmark, didn't return a call Thursday seeking comment.

On Tuesday, Ebony Gilreath, 21, of Brooklyn, was arrested on a charge of prostitution at a Plainview motel. Shaneesa White, 21, of College Park, Ga., and Keith Cowan, 23, of Riverdale, Ga., were arrested at a Jericho motel.

White had her daughter, 4, with her at the time of her arrest. The child was placed in a Suffolk County foster home, .police said.

When White met customers for sex, she left her daughter alone in the car outside the hotel room, police said. They said Cowan served as White's chauffeur and security guard.

White was charged with prostitution and endangering the welfare of a child. Cowan was charged with promoting .prostitution, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal possession of marijuana.

On Wednesday, police arrested Claudinette Rodriguez, 38, of Miami Beach, and Victoria Finley, 21, of Orlando, Fla., at Plainview motels and charged each of them with prostitution.

Gilreath was released without bond, pending a June 19 court date.

White had a bail set of $2,000 cash or bond. So did Rodriguez.

Cowan was ordered held on a bail of $2,000 bond or $3,000 cash, while Finley's bail was set at $5,000 bond or $2,500 cash.

Craigslist has long been criticized for allowing unmonitored, and in some cases illegal ads, to be posted. Arrests stemming from sex ads posted there are occurring across the country.

Under federal law, Craigslist isn't liable for what appears on its site, said Kurt Opsahl, a staff attorney for the San Francisco, Calif.-based Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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