Florida Keys News
Friday, August 28, 2009
Sting operation nets 3 prostitution arrests

Three alleged prostitutes accused of meeting undercover officers posing as clients and exchanging money in a Key West hotel room were arrested Wednesday night in a joint sting operation.

Colleen Knoth and Rebekah Stauffer, both 30 and from Key West, and Phyllis Blandino, 47, of Sugarloaf Key, were charged with soliciting for prostitution. The Monroe County Sheriff's Office Web site does not show any prior prostitution arrests for any of the women.

Detectives from the Key West Police Department and Monroe County Sheriff's Office conducted the investigation with the cooperation of the Holiday Inn on North Roosevelt Boulevard, whose management allowed authorities to use the hotel as the meeting place. Detectives then called Allure Escorts of Key West and responded to an advertisement on craigslist.com, reports say.

Detectives twice called Allure Escorts and requested women to "service" men at the hotel, reports say. In both instances women who answered the phone reportedly said escorts would arrive within the hour and discussed fees for "service." In each case, detectives allegedly gave an undisclosed amount of cash to the women and then arrested them.

In a third case, they called a woman who allegedly posted her services on craigslist.com. She also agreed to show up at the hotel and similarly was arrested, reports say.

The prostitution sting was spearheaded by sheriff's detectives, police spokeswoman Alyson Crean said.

Calls to Allure Escorts were not returned Thursday. The business has been in operation since 1998 and offers "dinner engagements, entertainment for all types of bachelor/private parties and/or private companions to help you relax for an hour or all day," according to the company's Web site.

Allure Escorts has addresses on Duck Avenue, Southard Street, 15th Court Street and in Miami, according to multiple online business listings. A property manager on Duck Avenue said no one has occupied that residence since January 2008 and added that operating a business, any business, from an apartment would violate the lease.

The Sheriff's Office and Key West detectives also were working together on an unrelated narcotics investigation that landed three Stock Island arrests. Patrick Stickney, 39, was charged with two counts of sale of cocaine; Isolina Fernandez, 19, was charged with four counts of sale of cocaine, and Verlencia Blake, 42, was charged with two counts of sale of cocaine.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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