Police busted an alleged prostitution ring last night that was being run out of a popular South Philadelphia Mummers club.
After receiving a tip in September that people renting the Downtowners Fancy Brigade on Snyder Avenue near 2nd Street was bringing in prostitutes every second Tuesday of the month for sex parties, an undercover officer stationed there last night was solicited by 10 women.
Police then responded at 7:30 p.m. and found women in various states of undress performing sex acts on the first and second floors of the club.
Neighbors expressed shock at the allegations yesterday.
"Whatever it was, it was pretty damn quiet. I know the brigade's gotta make money somehow, but it's a hell of a way to do it," said Rich Gusovius, 73, a member of the Saturnalians Fancy Brigade for 35 years. "Expenses are way up, but it's a hell of a routine to pull."
Police said that the Mummer hall was being rented by an outside party and that there was no evidence to support that the club was aware of the activity, despite the fact that those arrested included the Downtowners' financial secretary and steward, who were allegedly bartending.
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Mummers closed ranks as the allegations surfaced. "You should let police handle it and stop poking around," said a patron at a nearby bar. "This was not a Mummers' prostitution ring nor a Downtowners Fancy Brigade prostitution ring," the Philadelphia Mummers Association said in a statement. "This appeared to be just another routine rental."
"The Mummers are like a big family," Gusovius said. "Even though they did wrong, I'm sure they'll stick together."
Many johns not arrested
Fifity to 60 men and 20 women were at the clubhouse when police arrived last night.
Ten alleged prostitutes and three men were arrested. Police said the ringleader was Lawrence Crovetti, 65, of Feasterville. He was charged with promoting prostitution.
Downtowners steward Alfred Sanborn, 44, and financial secretary John Murray, 56, were charged with liquor violations for allegedly bartending despite the club's lack of a liquor license.
The johns, who reportedly paid a fee to enter the party and extra for sex acts, were stopped and their information taken, but they were released because undercover officers could not verify their actions.