Prostitution Arrests on the Rise in Moon
Police Chief Leo McCarthy said 54 people were charged with prostitution in Moon past year.
The advertisement read, "Hello Guys, Sally's Back." She was charging $200 an hour.
An undercover Moon Police detective, whom the department did not identify, responded to the ad after combing the adult services section of Pittsburgh.Backpages.com, a website for local classified ads.
He arranged to meet with Sally, whom police later identified as Sabina Earlene Sailer, on Wednesday night at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel on Cherrington Parkway. When the 43-year-old Florida woman, who has a lengthy history of prostitution arrests outside of Pennsylvania, agreed to have sex with the detective in exchange for money, she was arrested.
A man police identified as her fiance, retired Pittsburgh Police narcotics detective Talib Kevin Ghafoor, 55, of East Liberty, was arrested outside the hotel and charged with three counts of felony prostitution and criminal conspiracy as well as one count of misdemeanor possessing instruments of crime.
Sailer and Ghafoor remain in the Allegheny County Jail in lieu of $30,000 and $15,000 bail respectively.
Similar scenes have been playing out increasingly in Moon, according to Police Chief Leo McCarthy. Last year, his department charged 54 people with prostitution-related offenses in the township. In 2004, the department arrested just one person for the crime.
"We have airport communities like Robinson, Moon, North Fayette, Green Tree -- and there's been a big expansion in prostitution, here and in southwestern Pennsylvania, in general," McCarthy said. "I don't know if it's because of the economy or the Internet. It could be because of a lot of things."
McCarthy said Moon's proximity to the Pittsburgh International Airport, along with more than a dozen hotels located in the township, make it a prime location for suburban prostitution.
In 2008, Moon Police made multiple arrests that led to the closing of three massage parlors functioning as brothels on University Boulevard. Since then, the department has stepped up its enforcement of sex crimes.
Several months ago, Moon Police arrested a woman for prostitution in a residential neighborhood, though McCarthy said many people charged with sex crimes in Moon come from outside the township to engage in prostitution here.
"We don't have a Downtown, and we don't have a red-light district," he said. "There are no streetwalkers. Everything's done by appointment here."
The detective who made Wednesday's arrest at the Courtyard hotel is tasked with periodically monitoring online websites, such as Backpage and Craigslist, for adult service ads. Just as Internet advertising makes it easy for prostitutes to reach out to potential clients, it also makes it relatively simple for law enforcement to set up undercover stings, McCarthy said.
"[Prostitutes] coordinate online; they network," McCarthy said. "But it only takes a matter of minutes [for police] to find this stuff. It's right there in front of you online."
He said hotel employees often call his department reporting suspicious activity. Detectives also have conducted "reverse stings," sending a female officer undercover as a prostitute to make an arrest.
"We've been actively hunting this down," McCarthy said. "We're letting the prostitution community know that we're out there, and we're enforcing this."