They thought they were getting a good deal, offering to provide drugs in exchange for sex and in the case of a college student, bargaining who he thought was a prostitute down to $45, authorities allege.
But in reality, they were talking to Boston police officers from the Human Trafficking Unit conducting a sting operation.
Nearly two dozen men from Boston and nearby suburbs were charged with seeking sex for a fee and other crimes after recent online prostitution stings by Boston police, according to the Suffolk district attorney’s office.
The first sting occurred Jan. 24. During that operation, Eugene Im, 22, of Chestnut Hill, a Boston College student, allegedly bargained an officer posing as a prostitute down to $45.
Arlen Fox, 45, of Braintree, was also charged with drug possession with intent to distribute for allegedly offering to pay withGabapentin, a prescription medication sometimes used as a tranquilizer.
Also arrested during the sting were: Michael Harpin, 50, of Millville; Christopher Mullen, 41, of Newton, who was also charged with resisting arrest; Christopher Mudry, 51, of Lexington; Daniel Palmier, 52, of Newbury, N.H.; Steven Pelletier, 52, of the South End; James Plyant, 39, of Plymouth and Jeffrey Shyu, 33, of Brighton.
Mudry, Pelletier and Shyu resolved their cases by paying a $1,000 fine and watching a video about the risks associated with prostitution, according to the Suffolk district attorney’s office. The others were released on their own recogniznace and are due back in court.
A second online sting targeted people seeking to trade drugs for sex. Boston police, posing as prostitutes, arranged to meetthe alleged solicitors at a hotel in South Boston on Friday.
Arrested during that sting were: Guru Chandra-Sekaran, 30, of Brighton; Sean Delaney, 29, of Dorchester, who was also charged with drug possession; Mark Farris, 25, of Dorchester, who was also charged with drug possession; Michael Lebosky, 47, of Stowe; Harold MacFarland, Jr., 43, of Middleton, who was also charged with drug possession; Michael Marinaro, 26, of Chlemsford, who was also charged with drug possession; Sean Murphy, 32, of Brookline, who was also charged with drug possession; Jamie Romanak, 33, of Stoughton; and John Scanzillo, 37, of South Boston, who was also charged with drug possession with intent to distribute.
All of the men pleaded not guilty during their arraignments Monday and are due back in court on various dates.
“Research consistently shows prostitution to be linked with violence, coercion, sexual assault, and drug addiction,” said Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley. “The average age of entry into the sex trade is in the young teens. … If the physical and emotional risks associated with prostitution don’t cause would-be johns to rethink their actions, here’s another reason: The person who placed that online ad could be a Boston Police detective.”
Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.