Ruth Antuanet Miller, 35, originally from Peru but now an Arlington resident, pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Sex Trafficking by Force, Fraud and Coercion. She admitted to trafficking at least five victims.
Miller admitted in a statement filed in federal court that from May 2011 through July 2013, she was the leader of a criminal enterprise that prostituted women at hotels and motels around Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and in Fairfax County.
Some of the women involved were undocumented immigrants. Miller coerced some of them into prostitution by claiming she had ties to immigration agencies in the United States, and she could have the women removed from the country if they refused to engage in prostitution. Other women were told they would be arrested by local law enforcement agencies if they did not perform sex acts for money. Miller also claimed to have affiliation with a street gang and implied the women would be harmed if they didn’t comply.
Miller reported keeping half of the money the victims earned from prostitution while the victims kept the other half. Co-conspirators assisted Miller with operations such as booking hotel rooms, transporting the victims, collecting money and advertising on the internet.
The Arlington County Police Department and the City of Falls Church Police Department assisted Homeland Security Investigations and the Fairfax County Police Department with the investigation.
Miller will be sentenced on March 28, 2014, and faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Arlington Trail Counters — Arlington has “the region’s most extensive bike and pedestrian tracking system,” with nearly 30 sensors on trails and sidewalks. According to sensor data, two thirds of trail users are bicyclists. [Washington Post]
Ebbin Prostitution Bill in Limbo — A bill sponsored by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D), that would allow a prostitution conviction to be expunged if it’s proven the dependent was forced to work as a prostitute, got a cool reception from the Virginia State Crime Commission. The commission took no action on the bill, which was held over from the 2013 General Assembly session for possible consideration next year. [Associated Press]
Amazon Now Charging Sales Tax in Va. — Amazon.com is now collecting the 5.3 percent state sales tax from customers in Virginia. The change went in effect on Sunday. [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
Three people were arrested last week on prostitution charges after Arlington County police found a man and a woman allegedly engaging in sexual activity in the parking lot of the McDonald’s restaurant at 3013 Columbia Pike.
The incident happened around 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 12. According to police, a man and a woman were observed entering the restaurant and sitting by the front window. At one point the woman reportedly got up and started talking on a cell phone, at which time another man arrived.
The woman and the second man got into an SUV, drove to the back of the restaurant, and engaged in sexual activity after exchanging $20, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The vehicle was described as a Pontiac Aztek, and police say it was owned by the first man, who remained inside the restaurant. Police say they observed the sexual activity and arrested all three suspects.
The first man, identified by police as 69-year-old Richard Arden Leonard of Arlington, was charged with promoting prostitution with a vehicle. The woman, 48-year-old Angelia Kennedy of Alexandria, was charged with prostitution. The second man, 33-year-old Osman Javier Mejia of Arlington, was charged with soliciting a prostitute. All three suspects were released on a court summons.
“I write this piece as a warning to men in the D.C. metro area because I don’t want them making the same mistakes I did,” he writes.
“I thought you’d be interested in learning what’s it is like from the side of the john being arrested in Arlington,” he told ARLnow.com. “I hope I also give you some insight into why some people do this sort of thing. I figure since they make it a very public and embarrassing crime I might as well roll with it and own it.”
The man explains that johns arrested in Virginia don’t remain anonymous in the eyes of the law; the state’s practice of making public the names of those arrested has his identity scattered across the internet. Now, those who search his name for any purpose will see his arrest.
“I’m going to have to answer for what I’ve done to anyone and everyone for the rest of my life. I wear a scarlet letter now,” he writes. “It’s almost like you’re a sex offender, never mind that what you’ve done is a misdemeanor. They make [it] feel much worse; like it’s a felony.”
In the following excerpt from the man’s blog post about his experience with prostitution, he explains what happened during his arrest:
I was leaving the hotel where I had just met my latest “friend” and was trying to justify the cost in my mind as I walked down a busy street bustling with nightlife. I was oblivious to my surroundings and I never saw my judge, jury and executioners coming. They appeared out of nowhere. The next thing I felt was the coldness of the glass window as I was forced up against it and then the tightness of the handcuffs as they were snapped into place on my wrists. It was open season on Mr. John. I was visible to everyone. Had anyone I knew seen me I don’t know what I would’ve done afterwards to myself. I thought to myself that I rightfully deserved my fate and I am readily willing to admit it.
They were watching us Johns the whole time. As we went in an out of the rooms. In the end they got a whole bunch of us along with the escorts. It was a reverse prostitution sting without the female officer. They used the escorts that were there as the bait. I honestly should have turned back the minute I saw a police car in the parking lot leaving hurriedly, probably thinking that I spotted them or on their way to bust another John. But I wanted what I wanted and I paid the price. Even now when I walk past that hotel I look to see if they are staking the place out. I sometimes will see a police car parked there waiting for its prey. I then think about the poor fool who is about to be caught. Of course they use unmarked vehicles as well. If you see people standing around in a parking lot in plainclothes that’s them. All of this was being done the night I was caught, they actually didn’t come out of nowhere and I was stupid not to see the signs and know that they’re always watching.
I cooperated fully with the officers and told them everything they wanted to know. They spoke to me about the perils of prostitution. Besides the danger of STD’s (and yes I use protection) and the physical danger that these women are putting themselves into; I could also be robbed. They relayed to me some of the horror stories they’ve been subject to. While I too have read some of these stories online, having a police officer tell it to you in person really wakes you up to the reality.
So I appreciate what the police are doing and I know that I was wrong. All I’m saying is I’ll never do it again–not so long as I’m in a place where it’s illegal. The pain I’ve put myself through is not worth it. Now every time I’m walking and hear a car screech I flinch thinking it’s a cop coming for me.
The man closes his piece with a straightforward warning to others: “Don’t turn into me.”
A surveillance team observed numerous johns entering and exiting three separate rooms at the hotel, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. They were all followed and confronted when they left the hotel. According to Sternbeck, all the men confessed to having paid for sex and received citations for solicitation of prostitution.
Three women were arrested and charged with prostitution and keeping a bawdy place. The women also admitted to posting online advertisements for sex services, Sternbeck said. An additional woman was charged with receiving money from prostitution.
Police officers seized $2,100 from the alleged prostitutes.
Police targeted the hotel based on information they had gathered about possible prostitution occurring there. This is not the first time the hotel has been used for such activity. In December police detained six people at the hotel on suspicion of participating in a prostitution ring.
Police say the woman was at a bus stop in the 5000 block of Columbia Pike around 9:50 p.m., and started waving at the officer’s vehicle as he approached. The officer was in an unmarked car, wearing plain clothes.
According to police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, the woman leaned into the officer’s open window and said, “F–ky, f–ky.” The officer responded with, “Excuse me?” The alleged prostitute repeated, “F–ky, f–ky, 10 dollars.”
At that point, the officer called in the incident to headquarters and uniformed officers arrived on the scene to deal with 38-year-old Sherry Taylor of Arlington. Taylor was still at the scene and charged with solicitation and trespassing.
A woman was raped while visiting her sister in the Tara-Leeway Heights neighborhood last Thursday, according to this week’s Arlington County crime report.
The crime happened while the victim was visiting her sister’s apartment, in the basement of a home shared by several tenants, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. A man who lives in one of the rooms forced himself upon her while in one of the basement’s common areas, according to Sternbeck.
RAPE, 04/26/12, 2100 block of N. Patrick Henry Drive. At 3:30 pm on April 26, a victim was raped by a known subject at a multi-family residence. Carlos Montalban Pineda, 45, of Arlington, VA, was arrested and charged with animate object sexual penetration.
On Saturday a man was arrested after police say he brandished a BB gun during a parking dispute at Gunston Middle School.
BRANDISHING A FIREARM, 04/28/12, 2700 block of S. Lang Street. On April 28 at 9:37 pm, a subject displayed a black handgun after arguing with the victim over a parking space. Officers located the suspect a short time later at a soccer field and learned the firearm was a BB gun. Mohamed Sesay, 30, of Alexandria, VA, was arrested and charged with brandishing a firearm on school property. He was held on no bond.
On Sunday, police responded to the Comfort Inn in Ballston for a report of two women who were advertising prostitution services on Backpage.com while using the hotel’s lobby computer. No arrests were made.
PROSTITUTION, 04/29/12, 1200 block of N. Glebe Road. At 8 pm on April 29, officers were alerted of two subjects engaged in prostitution at an area hotel. Upon arrival, it was learned that the subjects were placing online solicitations ads from the hotel lobby computer.
The rest of the crime report, after the jump.
County Expects Fewer Housing Dollars from Feds — Federal spending cuts and a reduction in poverty in Arlington have combined to result in a relatively steep drop in federal housing dollars for Arlington County. The county expects to receive $1.16 million in federal housing dollars in fiscal year 2013 — a nearly $400,000 drop compared to the prior year. [Sun Gazette]
‘Tebow Bill’ Advances in General Assembly — A bill that would allow home-schooled students in Virginia to play for public school sports teams has cleared a key legislative hurdle, reports the Associated Press. The bill’s nickname — the Tebow Bill — references NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who was home schooled but permitted to play on a public high school football team. [My Fox DC]
Fitch Affirms Arlington’s ‘AAA’ Rating — Bond rating agency Fitch has affirmed Arlington’s AAA debt rating in advance of an upcoming bond offering. Fitch praised Arlington’s “outstanding fiscal performance” and “exceptionally vibrant employment base” in a press release. ”Conservative budgeting, timely tax and fee increases, and closely monitored expenditure controls consistently produce surplus operating results leading to solid reserve levels and liquidity,” the firm wrote. [Business Wire]
Prostitute Sexually Assaulted in Ballston — A prostitute was sexually assaulted at the Comfort Inn hotel on N. Glebe Road in Ballston on Wednesday, according to the Arlington County Police Department’s daily crime report. The woman did, however, manage to call her “bodyguard” during the attack. The bodyguard reportedly got in a scuffle with the woman’s attacker before the attacker fled the scene. [Patch]
A man accused of forcing prostitutes to perform sex acts at gunpoint in Crystal City is facing a lengthy jail sentence after pleading guilty or being found guilty on an assortment of charges.
Last month, a pair of Arlington County Circuit Court juries found McKinley C. Joyner guilty on two counts of forcible sodomy, two counts of using a firearm in the commission of a felony, and one count of abduction with the intent to defile. He also entered an Alford plea on charges of rape, forcible sodomy and abduction.
Prosecutors say Joyner victimized three female escorts in two separate incidents between 5:00 and 8:00 a.m. on Nov. 4, 2010. The women, who Joyner found via the web site Backpage.com, were each forced to engage in sexual activity at gunpoint at Joyner’s Crystal City apartment, according to prosecutors.
Joyner is facing up to 51 years in prison as a result of the convictions and the plea. His final sentencing dates are set for late next month.
Joyner’s legal troubles don’t end with there, however. He’s also facing a charge of possession with intent to distribute for the drug N-Benzylpiperazine, also known as BZP or Legal X. A trial on that charge and an accompanying firearms charge is scheduled for March 27.
Prior to these alleged crimes, Joyner had a relatively clean record. Prosecutors say they were only aware of one past conviction — on a 1999 charge for possession of marijuana in Montgomery County, Md.
Even though the Joyner’s victims were prostitutes, prosecutors say that doesn’t diminish the serious nature of the crimes.
“These are difficult cases for a lot of reasons,” Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Lisa Bergman told ARLnow.com. “When you’re dealing with victims that are prostitutes, it obviously was our contention that they were worthy of the protection our system. And the jury came back and echoed that sentiment.”
A female escort was held against her will and sexually assaulted in a Crystal City hotel room last week, according to the latest Arlington County crime report.
ABDUCTION WITH INTENT TO DEFILE / SEXUAL ASSAULT, 01/19/12, 2000 block of S. Jefferson Davis Highway. On January 19, around 8 pm, a female escort was held against her will in a hotel room while an unknown male sexually assaulted her. The suspect is a black male, 30-39, 170 lbs.
This is the third time in recent memory that a crime against an escort has been reported in Crystal City. A local man was arrested on Nov. 4, 2010, after allegedly forcing two prostitutes to perform sex acts at gunpoint. Then on Dec. 15, 2011, a female escort was robbed of cash at gunpoint on the 2000 block of Jefferson Davis Highway.
Also in Crystal City last week, several men are accused of going to a 23rd Street nail salon, then skipping out on the bill. One suspect even allegedly took $1,500 from an employee’s purse.
GRAND LARCENY, 01/18/12, 500 block of S. 23rd Street. On January 17 at 4 pm, five suspects entered a nail salon, received service and left without paying. While distracting salon staff, one of the subjects stole $1,500 cash from an employee’s purse. All suspects were black males, 25-30 years of age; however three were dressed in female clothes and wore wigs.
Finally, a young woman is accused of robbing a juvenile at gunpoint during a pot deal in the East Falls Church area.
ARMED ROBBERY, 01/24/12, 2600 block of N. Winchester Street. Shortly after 6 pm on January 24, an unknown female suspect brandished a handgun and robbed a juvenile for $100 cash during a marijuana deal. Immediately after, the female fled the scene in a green SUV driven by another party. The suspect is described as an Asian female, approximately 18 years old, 5’5”, 120lbs, with a dark mole under her left eye.
The rest of this week’s crime report, after the jump.
In this week’s Arlington County crime report, a female escort is robbed at gunpoint in Crystal City.
ROBBERY, 12/15/11, 2000 block of Jefferson Davis Highway. On December 15 at 10:50 am, a man brandishing a handgun robbed a female escort of cash. The suspect is described as an African American male in his late 20’s, 5’6” and 180 lbs. He was wearing a white t-shirt reading “Myrtle Beach”, jeans, a black jacket, and a black knit cap.
The rest of this week’s crime report — including the trespassing charges against five BASE jumpers accused of climbing a radio tower near Big Walnut Park — after the jump.
Six people were detained by police at the Columbia Pike Days Inn motel yesterday after a tip about prostitution led officers to a stolen vehicle.
Officers investigating a tip about prostitution activity at the Days Inn discovered an SUV that had been reported stolen out of Pennsylvania in the parking lot, according to Arlington County Police spokeswoman Det. Crystal Nosal. Officers kept an eye on the SUV and, when several people got in and started to drive off yesterday afternoon, police swooped in in dramatic fashion, blocking the vehicle in and handcuffing the occupants.
Six people — four women and two men — were detained. As of this morning, charges have still not yet been filed against the six suspects, we’re told.
NBC4 — which had a photographer on the scene within minutes of the arrests — led its 11:00 p.m. newscast with the story. The station’s website says the arrests were related to a “suspected prostitution ring in Arlington.”
Massage practitioners have been required to obtain county permits to perform massages and to operate a massage parlor in Arlington since the mid-1970s. At that time, massage parlors were often viewed as fronts for prostitution businesses.
That licensing process is now “superfluous,” according to county staff, because the Virginia Board of Nursing has been doing its own licensing for massage therapists since 1997. Plus, officials say, prostitution isn’t nearly as endemic as it once was in the massage industry.
“The whole field of massage has evolved and changed incredibly in the past couple of decades, such that there are a lot of very legitimate medical practitioners out there using massage for all kinds of health reasons,” Deputy County Manager Marsha Allgeier told ARLnow.com in September.
The Board agreed with county staff’s recommendation to do away with the massage licensing ordinance.
“This code is outdated, degrading and redundant,” Board member Jay Fisette said, adding that eliminating the ordinance would be an example of the Board following its New Years promise to break down some of “the barriers to small business.”
Before the Board’s vote last night, regulations required massage therapists to submit a form, a $50 fee, a massage school diploma or certificate, two passport size photos, a Virginia massage therapist certificate and an FBI record check including fingerprints. Now, message practitioners will only need a state license.
Arlington County Police will still investigate any accusation of prostitution activity related to a message business, county staff said.
The County Board is expected to vote in October on a request to advertise an ordinance change that would no longer require massage therapists to obtain a permit from the county’s health department. Instead, local massage therapists will only have to be certified by the state.
Arlington County’s massage regulation started decades ago, in response to a proliferation of prostitution operations masquerading as massage parlors. County officials say those days are largely past, and its time to look at massage therapists in a new light.
“The whole field of massage has evolved and changed incredibly in the past couple of decades, such that there are a lot of very legitimate medical practitioners out there using massage for all kinds of health reasons,” Deputy County Manager Marsha Allgeier told ARLnow.com. “In a way, it’s kind of an archaic law that we’re getting rid of… the old way of looking at massage therapists really does have to change.”
Allgeier said that the Arlington County Police department, not the health department, will be responsible for making sure that massage businesses — like the recently-opened Arlington Physical Center on Columbia Pike — are on the up and up.
“If there are illegal activities going on — that is, prostitution — that it needs to be treated as a police matter,” Allgeier said. “That’s the way to deal with the illegal activity that’s going on, not by requiring all massage professionals to go through an unnecessary… bureaucratic licensure process.”
Current regulations require massage practitioners to apply for a county Massage Therapist Permit by submitting a form, a $50 fee, a massage school diploma or certificate, two passport size photos, a Virginia massage therapist certificate and an FBI record check including fingerprints.
Guilty Plea in Arlington Child Prostitution Case — A former Westfield Wheaton mall security guard has pleaded guilty to enlisting a 16-year-old Arlington girl in his prostitution service. The 31-year-old Silver Spring man was accused of having sex with the girl, taking explicit photos of her and ordering her to have sex with eight men in Virginia and Maryland. [Gazette.Net]
Former O’Connell Teacher’s Car Found — The car of a former Bishop O’Connell High School teacher, missing since mid-June, has been found in a Rosslyn parking garage. The family of Tom Duesterhaus, who was last seen in Virginia Beach a day after the car was parked in the garage, says the discovery will likely not help with the search. [Patch]
Arlington Man’s Stamp Issued — Bill Bond, an Arlington resident and World War II veteran, designed “Owney the Postal Dog,” a new “Forever” stamp put into circulation by the United States Postal Service last week. [Beyond the Perf]
Flickr pool photo by Mark C. White