Freeport prostitution sting nets 11 alleged johns

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FREEPORT — A police sting on March 2 at an unidentified Route 1 motel led to the arrests of 11 men on charges of soliciting prostitution.

Ten of the men are Maine residents; one lives in Virginia.

Freeport police worked with neighboring police agencies to conduct the sting, which Freeport police Lt. Nathaniel Goodman described in a press release as being “short in duration.”

The alleged johns were arrested when police determined that there was probable cause to believe they had agreed to exchange money for a sex act with an undercover police officer.

Goodman said it is known that many area prostitutes are addicted to drugs or are being trafficked in some manner.

“Potential customers should be aware that police departments in the greater Portland area are actively targeting (customers) and (customers) will be arrested if they violate the Engaging a Prostitute statute. Engaging in Prostitution and Engaging a Prostitute are both crimes according to Maine law,” Goodman said.

Those arrested were William Policano, 28, Windham; Baron Rogers, 60, Hampton, Va.; Leonard Merrill, 60, Durham; Peter Light, 47, South Portland; Christopher Lavalley, 31, Lisbon Falls; Milan Simanic, 31, Portland, Brian Jones, 48, Augusta; Gerard Bowes, 53, West Poland; John Verreault, 55, Saco; Claude Cotnoir, 59, Oxford, and Hady El Ahmar, 42, Berwick.

All of the men are presumed innocent until they are convicted in a court of law, Goodman noted. The men are scheduled to be arraigned May 2 at 8:30 a.m. in West Bath District Court, he said Wednesday.

Participating police departments included Yarmouth, South Portland, Gorham, Auburn and Windham, plus the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department and members of the FBI Safe Streets Task Force.

Lisa D. Connell can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or lconnell@theforecaster.net. Follow Lisa on Twitter: @connell_ld.

Updated Wednesday, March 8, 2016.

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  • Chew H Bird

    This seems to be a truly wasteful use of taxpayer dollars (unless there is more to the story)…

    • yathink2011

      The rest of the story is it gets people to click on the story, which has advertising attached. So you click on this page about the “alleged” john’s and there’s an advertisement for The Maine Women’s Expo. Interesting.

  • yathink2011

    If they are presumed innocent, why did you publish their names in your sordid little newspaper before they were found guilty. Do you publish the names of people who are stopped for traffic violations before they go to court? No. Your advertisers must be giddy with excitement for higher sales.

    • EdBeem

      It is important that the names of people arrested be made public. Not to do so would amount to a police state in which citizens could be taken into custody without charge. There is a big difference between an arrest and a traffic ticket.

      • Chew H Bird

        In my opinion, there is a world of difference between being “made public” and being “published” in a newspaper article.

        • EdBeem

          People have a right to know who has been detained by the government and why. They also have a right to know what crimes are being committed in their towns.

          • Chew H Bird

            I agree. Police reports are published as a matter of course. A separate article highlighting the names of people caught up in a prostitution sting is a different level of publication and, in my opinion, not appropriate.

          • EdBeem

            So where would you draw the line? Would you not name anyone who is arrested until they are convicted of a crime? Murder? Rape? Assault? Domestic abuse? Armed robbery? Breaking & entering? Kidnapping? Extortion? So someone is arrested and goes to trial. Do newspapers have to protect the names of arrestees until they are convicted? Sorry. Newspapers protect minors and victims of crimes, but any adult who is arrested for any reason should expect to see his/her name in the paper.

          • Chew H Bird

            In this case, there was no murder, no robbery, no domestic violence, no threat to others… It was a sting specifically targeting people who wanted to pay money for services. If people had paid by purchasing a nice dinner, movie, and a hotel room they would not be charged with this violation.

            This type of stuff is a waste of tax dollars in my opinion. However, prostitution is technically against the law and as such things like this should be listed in the regular published police reports and not as a separate story. I wonder if any divorces will happen because of this article?

          • amainah

            Ed. As I read it in the paper not all names were listed under the town arrest list. Some, but not all. Why?

          • EdBeem

            No idea. Are you sure that’s the case?

          • amainah

            That’s what was printed in the paper edition under Freeport —- or not printed. Why in the article were the names given and left out of the Freeport arrests?

          • EdBeem

            My guess is the police blotter is a bit behind. Not sure. I’d ask the editor.

          • amainah

            The article stated that 11 were arrested in the sting (big headline) and listed 11 names. The police blotter for arrests in Freeport, printed in the same edition, only showed 6 of those names. It seems that listing those who were not arrested, in the article, if in fact they weren’t, could cause significant damage to the reputation of innocent citizens. Not good.

      • yathink2011

        But what if they are charged for engaging in prostitution, or child molesting, but there was a mistake and it wasn’t true? How do they get their reputation back? The people that the Innocence Project help sometimes get compensation, but not the little purported criminals.

        • EdBeem

          Do you think the identity of everyone who is arrest for any crime should be protected until they are convicted?

          • yathink2011

            No, not everyone. Do you think anyone has ever been wrongly charged, and wrongly convicted?

          • EdBeem

            Yes, of course. But does that mean we should not publish the names of the accused unless they are convicted?

      • yathink2011

        I’m sorry, I misread the headline, they are only “alleged” johns. That makes it better.