Filed underCrime and Justice, Heard On, Local, News, Philadelphia, Syndicated Local, Watch + Listen
Todd Quinones reports
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Police have uncovered alleged prostitution activity at a South Philadelphia mummers headquarters building.
Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey says members of the Downtowners Fancy Brigade were present at their South Philadelphia clubhouse when police conducted a prostitution raid last night, arresting 13 people.
Deputy police commissioner William Blackburn, in charge of major investigations, says two officers of the club were apparently willing participants in the activities.
“Two of the individuals were on the executive committee,” he said today. “Their web site has since been taken down, but they have been identified through their own volition that they were members of that particular club.”
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Blackburn says his team was tipped off about six weeks ago that illegal activity occurred at the clubhouse, at Front and Snyder, on the second Tuesday of every month.
Police say an undercover officer managed to gain access to the club last month after meeting with 65-year-old Lawrence Crovetti of Feasterville, who is charged with promoting prostitution inside the Downtowners clubhouse.
Police say it was Crovetti who allegedly procured the women for the Tuesday night events, which offered men who paid a 30-dollar cover charge access to willing women who would perform sex acts for a price.
On Tuesday night, when two more undercover officers went in, police say they were propositioned by up to 10 women who offered to engage in sexual conduct for prices ranging from 30 to 100 dollars.
Police then raided the club, which was filled with 50 to 60 customers, some of whom were already openly engaging in sexual activities with the women on the first and second floors of the club.
Police confiscated more than $4,000 in cash and some 1,500 containers of beer and liquor because the club did not have an active liquor license.
As the raid was going on, neighbors spilled out into the streets to see what was going on at the Mummers’ clubhouse with which they are so familiar.
“People got family that’s involved in the New Years Club; everybody’s got family that’s involved in the club. You know, I’m a mummer,” said one.
Late Wednesday afternoon the Philadelphia Mummers Association issued a statement that the events at the Downtowners Fancy Brigade club took place without the knowledge or approval of the club or the Mummers Association, and added that revenues received unknowingly from illegal activities would be donated to a charity.
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On Tuesday afternoon the Philadelphia Police Department released a list of those arrested:
– John Murray, 56, of the 400 block of Steeple Chase Circle in Deptford, NJ is charged with criminal conspiracy and violation of liquor laws. He is executive treasurer of the Downtowners.
– Alfred Sanborn, 44, of the 2400 block of South Third Street in Philadelphia is charged with criminal conspiracy and violation of liquor laws. He is a Downtowners club steward.
– Michelle Lauber, 32, of the 1300 block of Earl Street, was charged with prostitution, conspiracy, solicitation, and possession of narcotics.
– Lawrence Crovetti, 65, of the unit block of 4th Street in Feasterville was charged with criminal conspiracy, promoting prostitution, and violation of liquor laws.
– Virginia Ruiz, 46, of the unit block of Tree Lane, Bear, Del., was charged with solicitation and prostitution.
– Sherry Davidson, 40, of the 4300 block of Cottman Avenue in Philadelphia was charged with solicitation and prostitution.
– Regina Mahoney, 26, of the 4600 block of Deveraux Street in Philadelphia was charged with solicitation and prostitution.
– Chiante Galezniak, 35, of the 200 block of Widener Street was charged with solicitation and prostitution.
– Adriana Arena, 51, from the unit block of County Line Road was charged with solicitation and prostitution.
– Judith Jacobs, 36, of the 600 block of Jarves Road in Sicklerville, NJ was charged with solicitation and prostitution.
– Jennifer Quenderfield, 36, of the 100 block of West 7th Avenue in Conshohocken was charged with solicitation and prostitution.
– Barbara Gogos, 44, of the 100 block of Central Avenue in Cheltenham was charged with solicitation and prostitution.
– Alexis Simon, 24, of the 700 block of Carpenter Street in Philadelphia was charged with solicitation and prostitution.
Reported by Hadas Kuznits, Jim Melwert, and Mark Abrams, KYW Newsradio 1060