Hookers in Heat

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Psst! Wanna feast your eyes on some impressive figures? Check this lineup--24 arrests, an eighteen-month investigation, six search warrants, two escort services, one confiscated Jeep and one former Akron Vice Unit commander. It all adds up to a call-girl sting that ensnared home-based operations in Fairlawn and Berea, both run by female entrepreneurs. They sent their escorts on "out-calls" at motels and "in-calls" at the customer's home. They charged $100, took $50, and let escorts negotiate extra "tip services." They even gave employees 1099 income statements. Sounds like the home business trend has discovered the world's oldest profession.

So why'd the heat come down? Rampant disease, death, destroyed property? Uh, no, but we may have some tax-code violations. All 24 were charged with racketeering and money laundering. And who's the indicted ex-cop? Why, you remember Jack Porter, don't you? He spent 28 years on the force. He gigged around Akron with his band, Sgt. Jack's Nightwatch. And he retired after internal affairs turned up a few questions a year back. Now he's pleading innocent to both charges and guessing he was falsely fingered by a hooker with a lingering grudge.

This sting was carried out by a Summit County drug/organized crime "task force" called Cen-Tac. Heck, most of you Summit Countians probably never heard of Cen-Tac, and now here's Mouth saying you're paying their bills. And don't expect the feds to show up and say, "Hey, Summit County. We liquidated the assets, and now we're handing over your share. Go pave a few roads." Oh, did we explain the feds' involvement? Seems an IRS agent posed as a businessman drooling to buy the operation.

That sucks, but here's a fun twist. This sting netted receipts with client names, and one escort let slip that they include--brace yourself--politicians and lawyers. Yep, the very professions that give us these costly, convoluted prostitution laws! And these pros know what they're doing. For lawyers, there are now 24 more defendants who need an attorney. For the pols, there's more work for court employees and various government record-keepers, and eventually, another jail-building contract to grant. But strangely, when it comes to their personal lives, lawyers and pols do pick the most cost-effective option. Even at $250 a night, a hooker can be a bargain. Ya see, when your name is known, a cheap fling can easily resurface as an expensive, time-consuming lawsuit. Evidently, that's one bit of advice veteran hooker-buyer Dick Morris never gave to old hillbilly hotpants from Arkansas.

Law and Disorder
These are lawsuit-laden times, but we can't put all lawyers on the same level as career politicos. The ones who aren't politically connected are generally decent providers of a needed service. But the ones who swim in the political swill are the worst leeches of all. Our latest litigation lover is Mayor Mike White. He's preparing to add Clevo to the list of cities suing the gun manufacturers. White's not a lawyer, but he's certainly employed a few. Hmm, does Mouth spy mayoral legal eagle Fred Nance lurking in the shadows?

The legal aims here are twofold. One: Make manufacturers install trigger locks on all "handguns" (whatever that word legally means this week). Two: Extort a "settlement" from manufacturers for gun-related medical costs borne by government healthcare programs. Hizzoner's rationale? This is about "gun violence due in part to the gun industry's unwillingness to utilize technology already within its grasp."

What total bull. First off, the gun makers are not unwilling. They would've added trigger locks yesterday, if gun buyers were demanding them. And if manufacturers were slow to react, the black market would've met the demand, as it regularly does for criminals. Plain and simple, this lawsuit will have no impact on criminals. It is a calculated mass transfer of money from the law-abiding market segment, who'll pay increased gun prices, to the political elites, who'll dole it out in government contracts, and the big law firms, who'll take their huge cut. Ah, but these law firms only get a pittance if they don't win. However, such risks often are reduced by promises of more government legal work down the road.

If this shyster shell game works, what next? Well, there's that Elyria guy who hammered his wife to death last month. Hell, we can't hold him responsible. Let's sue the hammer makers, propose a hammer tax, maybe dicker for some federally licensed tool-chest locks. Hey, if it "saves" one life, the increased legal costs will be worth it.

Puppet Theater
Sample any of that Browns Expansion Draft? Not that new beer--the TV show at the Canton Civic Center. True, Mouth can't swallow the NFL Monopoly's headlong decline in believability, affordability, and offensive variety. (But if you dig monotonous five-yard dump passes and "feature backs" hogging 90 percent of the carries, it's your dime.) Even so, we still like the unpredictable drama of a player draft.But there was no drama in this draft. With only one team picking, they coulda scripted it, and they did. Still, we gotta hand it to Al Lerner and Carmen Policy. They put on a well-choreographed show, with the eager aid of their "broadcast partners." ESPN paid $811 to rent the Civic, so there was some money left over for the production. The Disney cable arm used a bit of it to hire Marty Schottenheimer as an analyst. Never known for incisive comments, Marty was better than expected. He no longer starts every sentence with "Quite frankly," "In my mind," "As the case may be," or "With great candor."

The only candor came later that night, when TV5's Bill Boronkay asked ESPN2 host Mike Tirico if ex-Brown Antonio Langham was a surprise as the final pick. Tirico admitted the order was meaningless when only one team's picking, and concluded it was all about "theater. And you leave 'em smiling." The lone surprise was that one NFL owner was honest enough to treat it as theater. Oakland's Al Davis sent a leggy Raiderette in a skirt the size of a penalty flag. In this testosterone-charged den of manipulated emotions and wagging dog bones, she proved the top eye magnet. Yo, NBC! You oughta blow off starting a rebel football league and hire Vince McMahon to stage Sunday afternoon bikini Jell-O wrestling.

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