4 charged in Berks County internet prostitution
READING, Pa. - July 28, 2010 (WPVI) -- Members of the Berks County Drug Task Force dismantled an internet prostitution escort business in Berks County.
The nine month long investigation culminated today with the arrest warrants for four individuals - Paul Sewell, Melissa Prestash, Sarah Robertson and Christina Keppley.
In addition to the arrest warrants, search warrants were executed at Fisher Court 10th Street in Reading, where Sewell conducted his prostitution business.
At 3:30 p.m., Paul Sewell and Sarah Robertson were apprehended in the parking lot of a Wyomissing hotel without incident. Then, they were transported to the Berks County Sheriff's Department Central Processing Unit for processing and video arraignment.
Melissa Prestash and Christina Keppley are still on the loose.
From November of 2009 to July of 2010, detectives for the District Attorney's Drug Task Force initiated an investigation after detectives received complaints and information regarding an escort service that was being operated by Paul Sewell. This escort service was a disguise for a prostitution business owned and operated by Sewell. Sewell utilized the internet and cellular telephone to facilitate his operation. Sewell advertised his business on a website called "Cash Money Brothers Escort." This website did provide a disclaimer of prostitution activity.
However, during the course of the investigation detectives learned sexual acts were offered and performed in exchange for U.S. currency. Sewell hired and advertised as many as twenty women of different ethnic backgrounds to facilitate his prostitution operation.
Police say Sewell directed the women to address him as "GOD" and required each of them to be branded with a tattoo on the back of their necks, identifying each with a nickname, and prefaced with the possessive word "GOD'S". Some of the branding names included, God's Star, God's Angel, God's Secret, God's Blessing, God's Jewel and God's Property. Sewell conducted his business from two locations in the City of Reading, 209 Fisher Court and 214 N. 10th Street.
Sewell would charge a client an average of $145.00 for a one hour session, which included a sexual act. Some of the sessions would be arranged for an overnight stay at $800 and some customers would arrange an entire weekend stay for $2,500.
Sewell would split the proceeds with the women who performed the services. The client had the option to receive the service at the Reading addresses or he would deliver the women to a suitable location for the requesting customer.
During this investigation, on three separate occasions, undercover detectives arranged one hour sessions with Sewell's employees via internet and/or cellular telephone. On all three occasions Sewell agreed to arrange one of his employees to meet the detectives for the purpose of having sex in exchange for money.
On two of those occasions Sewell personally delivered his employees in his vehicle to the undercover detectives waiting at motels located in the Wyomissing area of Berks County. This service was promoted by Sewell as an "Out Call". On the other occasion Sewell arranged a one hour session for an undercover detective to meet one of his employees at 209 Fisher Court, Reading, Berks Co., Pa. This service was referred to as an "In Call".
During this investigation, Sewell made a statement that his organization made $150,000 last year.
All four defendants were charged with violations of the Pa. Crimes Code; Prostitution and Related Offenses, Corrupt Organization, Public Nuisances, Dealing in Proceeds of Unlawful Activities and Criminal Conspiracy.
This was a joint investigation conducted by the following law enforcement agencies: the Berks County Detectives, PA State Police, Reading Police Department, Wyomissing Police Department and Birdsboro Police Department, which are all members of the Berks County District Attorney's Drug Task Force.
pennsylvania, reading, berks county, prostitution, crime
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