More AlternaWeekly Blues

Police in Orlando today arrested three employees of the Orlando Weekly on charges of aiding and abetting prostitution. The three worked in the paper's classified section.  Police say they were helping the city's escorts and massages parlors write coded ads to attract johns while escaping detection from police.

More:

"The prostitution problem has been growing here in recent years because Orlando Weekly is providing space for these kinds of criminal enterprises," MBI director Bill Lutz said. "We did send them letters and that worked at the time, but this time, they told us to go pound sand."

As part of Operation Weekly Shame, two female agents went undercover and presented themselves as prostitutes to at least two of the Weekly's advertisers, Lutz said. They made it clear that the ads were for promoting their prostitution businesses.

Sgt. Paul Zambouros, a deputy who heads the MBI's vice unit, in June sent a letter to the Don Farley, publisher of Times-Shamrock Communications Alternative Newsweekly Group – which publishes the Orlando Weekly - asking that the Adult Services and Certified Massage sections be eliminated from the newspaper.

Zambouros said the newspaper was benefiting from the prostitution ads.

The paper itself was put on notice that it's being investigated for racketeering for running the ads. The same police department is also hinting that it may next go after Craigslist.

Incidentally, 2006 was the bloodiest year in Orlando's history. The city recorded more murders than Miami, a city twice its size. Putting the obvious First Amendment issues aside, you can't help but wonder why in light of the violence going on in the city Orlando's police department would find it necessary to spend the money on a two-year investigation into ads for happy ending massage parlors in local newspapers.

Thanks to frequent H&R commenter "Lamar" for the tip.

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  • Sulla||

    I don't know any Florida law, but wasn't there a case somewhere that said a phone messaging service couldn't be criminally liable even if they knew prostitutes were using the to further their business?

  • Sulla||

    oops
    "using their service to further"

  • ||

    Putting the obvious First Amendment issues aside, you can't help but wonder why in light of the violence going on in the city Orlando's police department would find it necessary to spend the money on a two-year investigation into ads for happy ending massage parlors in local newspapers.


    Um, because it's easier to bust hookers and potheads?

  • ||

    If they shut down Craigslist, I vote that we make the "America's Wang" nickname for Florida official.

  • Ryo||

    I'm amazed at how brazen people are on Craiglist's erotic services pages. It's like putting up a billboard advertising your opium den.

    Unless everyone on Craiglist are actually cops, then it all makes perfect sense to me.

  • ||

    "The prostitution problem has been growing here in recent years because Orlando Weekly is providing space for these kinds of criminal enterprises," MBI director Bill Lutz said."

    That's the real kicker. Prostitution is growing because of the ads. It isn't the people who want these services...who are willing to risk a criminal record, fines and imprisonment to hire a prostitute. It isn't that cops are wasting their time arresting newspaper guys instead of, you know, getting the actual hookers off the street. It isn't a system that criminalizes moral decisions. Nope. It's the newspaper's fault.

  • ||

    No, it's God's fault for making sex pleasurable.

  • ||

    Back when I lived in Orlando, weirdness like this abounded. I suspect it is because Orlando is an entertainment mecca in the midst of Fundie-land.

    Drive 10 minutes outside of Orlando and you feel like you are in a Robert Heinlein short-story involving Nemeniah Scudder.

    The fundies hate the den of vice and iniquity that is Disney and MGM studios, but they like the cash it draws in. They are terribly conflicted and look for ways to attack the vice without killing their golden goose.

  • Episiarch||

    No it's Bush's fault. Jeb Bush's!

  • ||

    No, it's God's fault for making sex pleasurable.

    I get no pleasure out of it. Come home, get erect, bone the chick, wash up, have dinner, watch "Cops" marathon, hit the sack.
    Now who the fuck would ever pay to do that?

  • ||

    No, it's God's fault for making sex pleasurable.

    And the fundies have been giving the BIG G a free pass for too long. I took stock of my body today and I have some defective merchandise complaints for the manufacturer. It's time to hold the Almighty responsible for his screwups.

  • Fluffy||

    "Police say they were helping the city's escorts and massages parlors write coded ads to attract johns while escaping detection from police."

    This kind of thing really pisses me off.

    Who wants to bet that "helping" consisted of turning down ads that would be illegal?

    Ring Ring

    "Hi, I want to run an ad that says, 'I will blow you for money'."

    "Sorry, that's illegal, you can't do that."

    "What can I do?"

    "You can only run an ad that says, 'Escort Available' or something like that."

    I'll bet this is a reasonable facsimile of all the conversations that these fucking worthless pigs argue constitute "aiding".

    To tie it to what might seem like an unrelated subject, this reminds me of the absolute bullshit prosecution of Tom Delay. In the final analysis, Delay stands accused of having declined illegal campaign contributions, and then of having advised those contributors of how they could use technicalities in the law to make the contributions they want.

    In other words, both of these bogus prosecutions are based on the defendant's obedience to the law, and frustration on the part of petty tyrant piece of shit pigs at the fact that technical compliance with unjust laws was maintained.

    I hope these pigs get cancer and die.

  • ||

    Aaaargh! The conservative girl with no pants has been replaced by some guy with no shirt!

  • ||

    I remember when Orlando was a squeaky clean city run by a big boss mouse machine. Sometime in the 90's the mouse got greedy. Only a matter of time before he turns out Minnie. Donald's been on the needle and pimping out Daisy. He had his nephews working the airport, but I heard dcfs placed them with a relative in Scotland

  • ||

    The people behind the Orlando Weekly deserve to go to jail for their tedious, poorly written, and illrevelent articles, but not for helping hookers.

  • Bee (obviously, late to the pa||

    Craigslist? Really?

  • ||

    Keep in mind we are talking about a state that claims the right to arrest you because your possessing a 30 day supply of your perscription drug(s)

  • ||

    Living in Orlando this past 1/2 year, I can say as clear as day that the city is going to decay into anarchy within the next couple of years. Maps of America in the future will feature a small, red dot where Orlando used to be labeled "No Man's Land."
    And I'll be in the center of that red dot, a rouge warrior wandering through the decay of what used to be The Happiest Place on Earth promoting truth and justice with my dog named Blood and a bevy of automatic weapons.

  • TLB||

    Of course, there's also the possibility that the police believe that one type of non-violent crime tends to attract violent crime through those who prey on the johns, whether associates of the Minnies or just opportunists. But, let's just completely ignore that side of things.

  • Episiarch||

    with my dog named Blood

    A Boy and His Dog reference. Niiiiice. Didn't expect that out of the blue. I would be highly amused if Disney themed a ride after that movie/story--I'd be first on that line.

  • Anonymo the Anonymous||

    Is that charge in that jurisdiction a register-for-life-just-like-the-actual-rapists kind of deal also? Not that this isn't screwy enough as is.

    Of course, there's also the possibility that the police believe that one type of non-violent crime tends to attract violent crime through those who prey on the johns, whether associates of the Minnies or just opportunists.

    If only there was some system people involved in those non-violent activities might be allowed to access to solve their disputes and seek protection from violent criminals through the use of... laws... for the purpose of... justice. What might we call such a fanciful notion?

  • ||

    A Boy and His Dog reference. Niiiiice. Didn't expect that out of the blue. I would be highly amused if Disney themed a ride after that movie/story--I'd be first on that line.
    I think it could be one of the few movies out there that, if remade, it would be better than the orginal.

  • Robert||

    Anything would be better than that original movie.

  • ||

    At least newspapers and craiglist remove the pimp from the equation. Don't they care about the safety of whores?

  • ||

    Never see "A Boy and His Dog" on TV.

    Maybe it's the ending?

  • ||

    At least newspapers and craiglist remove the pimp from the equation. Don't they care about the safety of whores?

    Obviously, no.

  • Paul||

    Hmm, god help The Stranger if the cops ever decide to scrutinze their... ahem, "personals" and "therapeutic massage" ads.

  • Gimme Back My Dog||

    Maybe it's the ending?

    Yep, it's the ending. And the beginning. And the parts in between.

  • Gimme Back My Dog||

    Officials said that the newspaper's advertising executives also helped escort services design ads that would cloak them from the eyes of law-enforcement officers.

    And how fucking stupid are these cops if they can't figure out the "cloaked" ads. Like the cops are sitting around baffled by "350 roses for hour full; greek extra"

    Um, at least, that is what I have heard prostitution ads go.

  • ||

    "Of course, there's also the possibility that the police believe that one type of non-violent crime tends to attract violent crime through those who prey on the johns, whether associates of the Minnies or just opportunists."

    It seems a bit circular to say that prostitution is a crime because of the bad element associated with it even thought that bad element wouldn't be associated with it if it weren't crime.

  • Fluffy||

    The issue here isn't even prostitution, TLB.

    The issue is whether the police should be able to harass a newspaper that explicitly does NOT run ads for prostitution, using the argument that the ads are "in code".

    If the ads aren't explicitly about a crime, then they aren't about a crime. Period.

    Once again, if this is a free society, then people who obey the LETTER of the law should not be subject to police harassment and abuse. If this makes it more difficult for vice cops to do their jobs, too fucking bad for vice cops.

  • ||

    Just so everbody is on the same page, this, from the Detroit alternative rag, Metro Times, is similar to what is being descibed as coded ads.

  • TLB||

    It seems a bit circular to say that prostitution is a crime because of the bad element associated with it even thought that bad element wouldn't be associated with it if it weren't crime.

    Even if pros. were legal it would still attract a associated "bad element". Get real.

  • ||

    just like in Phoenix, the Orlando Weekly has a history of exposing the malfeasance and incompetence of the agency suddenly giving them trouble of the retaliatory kind.

  • ||

    WHAT A SHAME

    "Operation Weekly Shame" was originally a program created by a secret unit in John Ashcroft's Justice Department to bust johns who had traded internet porn for real prostitutes.

    Millions of federal grant dollars to finance local Beaver Busters could be lost if there was a shortage of johns on the street who had switched to internet porn. Busting johns in front of their computer screens wasn't working ... too many off-duty police were caught playing with their clubs ...

    So Ashcroft launched a "Where's the Beaver" campaign posing with the best Sting Whore in each town, reminding johns everywhere that even the worst beaver on the street was better than the best porn sites on the web.

    John Walters got into the act with his own campaign, "Where's the Dealers", posing with the best Sting Druggie in each town. His problem was similar - street druggies switching to drugs from the internet ... busting folks at the mailbox drew yawns from the "Cops" staff ... no pr funds there ...

    When they'd both end up in a town at the same time, it was billed as "Double Shame - Fool You Once, Fool You Twice, Nooky and Drugs on Web Not Nice".

    The Orlando police has sullied the name of this program with a cheap knock-off of shame creation that is counter-productive by forcing johns off the street, into the newspapers and now onto the internet.

  • M||

    Aaaargh! The conservative girl with no pants has been replaced by some guy with no shirt!


    Coincidence? I think not.

  • Senator Larry Samuel F. B. Mor||

    Code? Did someone say code?

  • e||

    I just hope this story has a happy ending for all involved!

  • http://||

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  • ||

    Heh, Orlando made Wired's list of hot tech cities, with one of the main reasons cited being our happening craigslist.....

    Not reported here, but a guy in Orlando killed a pimp this week after he was being setup by a whore on craigslist....

    so yeah, we do have a murder problem in Orlando.

  • ||

    Even if pros. were legal it would still attract a associated "bad element". Get real.

    Even if pros. baseball were legal it would still attract an associated "bad element". e.g. gamblers, drug dealers, ticket scalpers, sports reporters. Let's all "Get real".

  • ||

    Hey. Stop it.

    Stop it.

    The ever growing budgets [and salaries] at the Orlando Tower of Justice warrant over-zealous policy work. Operations must be at full tilt in order to benefit from exponential growth. And re-appropriations.

    Who enforces policy? The police.
    Don't blame them for field based judgments gone wrong. Forgive them for being creative.

    In an age where schools are cutting art & studying up for THE BIG ONE, shouldn't we applaud something so inspiring.
    it's called

  • ||

    "Not reported here, but a guy in Orlando killed a pimp this week after he was being setup by a whore on craigslist....

    so yeah, we do have a murder problem in Orlando."

    Yep, so...let's start somewhere! Let's start by stopping prostitution. Stop prostitution and there will be no need for pimps. Then there will be no need for pimps to employ prostitutes and rob "johns" and get killed in the process.

    As you can see VIOLENT CRIME (Robbing the John) does stem from prostitution/pimping.

    Get a clue people!

  • Counter-Clock||

    Remember, police are allowed to lie. They have no intention to go after Craigslist because it is a completely different animal. Craiglist has no one monitoring ads, and removes ads after a complaint. So, the Craigslist reference is just soundbite, and they know chances of the Weekly arrests sticking are close to nil, so those are just for publicity, possibly harassment and intimidation of the Weekly.

    The problem is that there are no checks and balances for when police obviously make arrests and their spokemen make spin for sake of publicity. This kind of thing should come to be legally on par with Nifong's type of misconduct.

  • ||

    Someone mentioned the Orlando Weekly having poor writing, well at least it is actually "investigative" writing as opposed to our other local paper, the PR rag for developers, disney, politicians & the all-powerful sheriff. The Weekly has written a number of articles about the "MBI" and their tactics, which don't really take much notice of the 4th Amendment, let alone any of the others.

  • Christ on a Cracker||

    Why do they want to shut down the ads? They have a compass pointing to all the whore-houses in Orlando?

    CoaC

  • ||

    George Crossley, host of a local radio show called "The People Power Hour" and Orlando Direct Action, an anarchist group, are putting together a "Support the Weekly" rally.

    Tuesday, October 23 at 5:30 pm.
    100 Livingston St. (outside the Weekly's offices)

  • Henry||

    I dont understand how removing 20-30 ads that appear in the Orlando Weekly, is going to put an stop to the Adult business, when there are hundreds of adult ads on the Internet all the time in Orlando??????

  • ||

    It's more about trying to shut down the only paper in town critical of the MBI. The MBI is a secretive vice squad made up of city cops, county sheriffs deputies, FBI, DEA etc., with their own set of prosecutors. Their mandate is to stamp out organized crime.

    Of course, organized crime hasn't been a problem for awhile in central Florida. So the MBI has been trying to justify its existence with high publicity strip club busts that never result in any convictions. The Weekly has called them out regularly on their waste of taxpayer money, secretive tactics, disregard for public safety and disregard for the 4th Amendment.

    That's why the MBI chose to arrest the Weekly employees at a job fair organized by the Weekly. It's all about showing everybody that the vice squad has the biggest balls in town and you don't screw with cops.

    Then again, the statute they are expanding to apply to the Weekly was designed to get at pimps and crimelords. The legislature has said nothing about seedy advertisements. I guess I'm wondering why an unelected and highly secretive agency like the MBI feels it has the right to expand the statute beyond its clear meaning.

  • Henry||

    I guess your right, with all the "REAL" crime that's going on in Orlando, you think trying to remove some adult ads would be the last thing on anyone's mind. I read the Weekly every week and never pay attention to those ads. I feel if someone wants to hire someone for there services, its there money and there business" at least it keep's them from driving up and down OBT holding up traffic lol.

  • ||

    The Orlando Weekly comes up swinging hard. Their cover story, summarizes all of the MBI's faults and failures, including a nude photograph of MBI agent and the location of MBI's not-so-secret anymore headquarters.

    How much longer will Orlando pay to have MBI agents get lap dances, fondle stripper boobies, and send nude pictures of themselves around town?

  • ||

    I have personally suffered at the hands of the MBI, and let me tell you, they are a good reason why cops are often called "pigs". They are the biggest bunch of perverts ever; all they want is a FREE FEEL, because that is what they do. There are no female officers performing arrests or body searches, I was groped, spit on, called all kinds of names, threatened, had hands stuck in my pants and my underwear snapped. They don't investigate, they ENTRAP!

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