Arlington, VA

A man who forced a 16-year-old girl to work as a prostitute in an Arlington County hotel pleaded guilty yesterday to sex trafficking a minor.

According to documents filed in federal court, Andrew Lee Thompson II, aka “Slim,” 34, of Florida, brought the girl to Arlington after meeting her in Arizona.

While in Arlington, a security guard called police after seeing multiple men go in and out of two rooms at a hotel, identified by WUSA 9 as the Best Western on S. Glebe Road near I-395.

“When law enforcement investigated, they found evidence of prostitution related activity in the hotel rooms and recovered the minor victim,” said a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “After arresting Thompson, law enforcement found tattoos on his body bragging about his pimping activities, including on his arm and across his chest.”

Thompson also trafficked the girl in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and elsewhere in Virginia for prostitution dates, then collected the money. Thompson worked alongside two co-defendants, Delberta McKenzie and Rachel Robillard, prosecutors say, using prostitution ads posted online.

Thompson faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison. He will be sentenced on February 9, 2018.

Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, announced the guilty plea with Arlington County Police Chief Jay Farr and Andrew Vale, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

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Morning Notes

Pigeons staying warm in the Rosslyn Metro Station

Residents Getting Dominion Scam Calls, Again — Some Arlington residents are again reporting getting phony phone calls claiming to be from Dominion Power. Just in time for this week’s extremely cold weather, the scammer threatens to shut the power off unless the homeowner pays a supposedly overdue bill over the phone.

Child Sex Trafficking Case Had Arlington Connection — A Nevada man pleaded guilty in Alexandria federal court yesterday to charges of prostituting women and underage girls in various states including Virginia. Arlington is one of the Northern Virginia jurisdictions named as a place where the man, Lenny Haskins, plied his trade as a pimp. [Reston Now]

Rosslyn Red Hot and Blue Tchotchkes Moved to N.C. — Various equipment and memorabilia from the now-closed Red Hot and Blue restaurant in Rosslyn are being moved to a new Red Hot and Blue location in Cary, N.C. The Arlington location was the barbecue chain’s first. [Triangle Business Journal]

BBC Mentions Weenie Beenie — The BBC takes a look at the mysterious D.C. food phenomenon known as the half-smoke. The broadcaster points out that the Weenie Beenie in Shirlington, which opened in 1954, may have been the first in the area to start slinging half-smokes. [BBC Travel]

Arlington 13-Year-Old is a Web Cartoonist — Arlington student Cole Goco, 13, is the cartoonist behind a surrealist web comic about a boy, a talking ice pop and a pet turtle. [Washington City Paper]

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Morning Notes

Outside the Pentagon City Metro entrance, just before Christmas (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

Summers and Soccer — Summers Restaurant in Courthouse, set to close after Dec. 31, is being eulogized as the Washington area’s premier soccer bar. Though holding out hope for a “miracle,” owner Joe Javidara says he is being forced to close due to financial woes. With more international soccer games available via cable and at other, newer bars, business at Summers has “dropped… off the cliff.” [Washington Post]

Moran Objects to Killing Birds Near Airports — Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) wants airports, like Reagan National, to deploy new avian radar technology and stop the practice of euthanizing birds that live near airports. NBC4’s I-Team reports that more than 100,000 animals, including birds, have been “chased away” from the runways at Reagan, Dulles and BWI, to reduce the risk of animal strikes. [NBC Washington – WARNING: Autoplay video]

Arlington Contractor Settles Civil Claim — Arlington resident Keith Hedman, 55, has agreed to pay $4.5 million to settle civil claims related to a fraud sceme. The government sued Hedman, the CEO of security contracting firm Protection Strategies, Inc., alleging that he fraudulently obtained $31 million worth of government contracts intended for minority-owned and disadvantaged small businesses. Last year Hedman pleaded guilty to criminal charges. [U.S. Attorney’s Office]

Arlington Woman Sentenced for Sex Trafficking — Arlington resident and Peruvian national Ruth Antuanet Miller, 35, has been sentenced to seven years in prison for leading a sex trafficking company. Miller pleaded guilty last year to charges that she led a criminal enterprise that prostituted women at hotels and motels around Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and in Fairfax County. On Dec. 19, Miller was sentenced to 84 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay $341,437 in restitution.

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Arlington police carWhat was thought to be a possible case of domestic violence in Pentagon City turned out to be a case of a man fighting with a prostitute over stolen goods, according to Arlington County Police.

Around 7:45 p.m. on Monday, in the area of the Pentagon City mall, a witness told police that he saw a physical altercation between a man and a woman. Police searched the area and found the people in question, who turned out to be a prostitute and her john.

According to a crime report, the pair had “brief sexual encounter” at another location, then traveled to Pentagon City and “stole items from several area businesses.” The witness, police say, had actually seen the aftermath of a fight between the man and the woman over one of the stolen items.

“When the male subject demanded one of the stolen items, a verbal argument ensued which escalated into a physical confrontation with the male subject pushing the female to the ground then unsuccessfully attempting to take her purse, where some of the stolen items were hidden,” said police.

Both suspects were arrested. The woman was wanted on an out-of-state warrant. while the man was charged with attempted robbery. Other charges may be pending.

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Morning Notes

A lunch-goer looks at a construction area at the Pentagon City mall food court

Prostitution Arrests on the Rise — Arrests of prostitutes are on the rise in Arlington. Halfway through the year, ACPD has made 26 prostitution arrests, compared to 32 for all of 2013 and 18 in 2012. Police say many of the prostitutes come from the West Coast and are attracted to areas like Crystal City, Ballston and Rosslyn due to high-income clientele and easy access to highways. [Washington Post]

Artists Build Art Studio After Fire — Husband and wife artists Bryan and Julie Jernigan have built a freestanding, 16’x20′ art studio in their North Arlington backyard. The project follows a period of hardship in their lives: a fire broke out in the couple’s home in 2012. [Northern Virginia Magazine]

State Budget Woes — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) has revealed that the state is facing a $2.4 billion budget shortfall and that additional budget cuts are necessary. McAuliffe blamed the shortfall, in part, on federal defense spending cuts. [Washington Post]

Arlington’s Best-Reviewed Apartment? — The Concord, an apartment building in 2600 Crystal Drive in Crystal City, has been named the best apartment building in Arlington by a national research firm. The firm ranked 120 properties in Arlington based on online reviews and reputation. [Multi-Housing News]

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Two alleged prostitutes from California were arrested by Arlington police early Friday morning.

The pair was arrested at the Sheraton hotel on Columbia Pike, after police discovered online prostitution ads on the website Backpage.com, according Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

“That’s usually the place these individuals are posting their solicitations,” Sternbeck said. From this week’s crime report:

KEEPING A BAWDY PLACE, 140110007, 900 block of S. Orme Street. On January 10 at 12:50am, two females were arrested after posting online solicitation ads and offering services to officers. Maryrose Ioane, 22, of Antioch, CA and Erlynn Sanchez Edwards, 22, of N. Highlands, CA were charged with keeping a bawdy place.

The rest of the crime report, after the jump. All named suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty.

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Police car lightsAn Arlington woman has been convicted of running a sex trafficking venture in Northern Virginia.

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.

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Morning Notes

Lyon Village rabbit (Flickr pool photo by jordanhiggins)

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]

Flickr pool photo by jordanhiggins

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Arlington County Police Department badgeThree 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.

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A “john” who says he was recently arrested in Arlington for hiring a prostitute is stepping forward with his story, and a warning to others.

“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.

The man wishes to remain anonymous and will not say where he was arrested, but confirmed it was during one of the recent prostitution busts taking place throughout Arlington.

“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.”

File photo

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Police made a prostitution bust at the Days Inn hotel on the 3000 block of Columbia Pike last night.

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.

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