CARS HOMES JOBS

Neighbors credited with help in Waterford prostitution bust

August 28, 2013
Updated 10:56 p.m.
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Sandi Stott, 22, of Albany, left, was charged with prostitution, and Kevin Gervasio, 28, of Waterford, was charged with promoting prostitution this week in Waterford.
Sandi Stott, 22, of Albany, left, was charged with prostitution, and Kevin Gervasio, 28, of Waterford, was charged with promoting prostitution this week in Waterford.

— When local residents told Waterford police they had suspicions of prostitution in their neighborhood, they had a lot more than hunches to go on.

One resident had noticed a house getting regular visits by different men, with each visit lasting 20 or 30 minutes. “One of the dead giveaways,” as Public Safety Commissioner John Tanchak put it, was when a tractor-trailer driver pulled up to a residence and began taking his pants off as a woman led him back to the back of the truck.

Prostitution was prevalent, even expected, when Tanchak worked on the city of Albany police force. But this week was the first prostitution arrest he has seen in his eight years with Waterford police, a department that oversees the small riverside town in the southeast corner of Saratoga County.

A Waterford man and Albany woman were arrested after police received resident complaints of prostitution activity in the town’s Clifton Street neighborhood. Officer Michael Dilbone launched an investigation into the complaints, eventually receiving help from state police and making the two arrests.

Working with neighbors, Dilbone discovered a website — www.backpage.com — where ads were being placed for local female escorts. The state police Community Narcotics Enforcement Team joined the investigation, answering a local ad on the website that said “Stephie $120 for a half-hour and $220 for an hour.”

Investigators arranged to meet “Stephie” at 22 Clifton St. and once there agreed to engage in sexual conduct for $100, police said. Once this agreement was reached, police moved in to make their arrests.

Kevin Gervasio, 28, of 41 Clifton St. in Waterford, was charged with felony promoting prostitution. Sandi Stott, 22, who listed an Albany hotel as her address, was charged with prostitution.

Tanchak said it’s unusual to see prostitution in the small town.

“We’re a proactive department, and we don’t allow stuff like that to happen,” he said. “Thank God for the neighbors on this one. They kept a good eye on this activity.”

Tanchak said he expects further investigation of the website to result in more arrests, since he has reason to believe Gervasio was employing at least three different women.

The website is familiar to law enforcement agencies across the nation, having been used time and time again to traffic women and minors for sex. Its homepage simply lists states broken down by major cities and towns. When you click on a particular city, it takes you to a classifieds page that looks much like Craigslist — there are ads posted for cars, musicians, jobs and furniture. And then there are the ads posted under “dating,” “adult” and “services” — requesting escorts, body rubs, massages and strippers, among other things.

Clicking anything further requires you to agree to an 18-years-of-age-or-older disclaimer.

“We kept a good eye on this website,” said Tanchak. “Everybody flocked to it in 2010 after the outrage over the ads being placed on Craigslist, which then took its adult services section off the Web. There will always be some website that’s going to pick up stuff like this. It will likely always continue, but not in this neighborhood it won’t.”

Gervasio and Stott were arraigned in Waterford Town Court.

Gervasio was on parole and has 51 arrest charges and 17 convictions to his name.

He was sent to Saratoga County Jail in lieu of $5,000 bail or $10,000 bond. Stott posted $500 cash bail and was released pending further court action.

 
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comments

August 28, 2013
4:30 p.m.
wmarincic says...

Good thing that you posted the local Hooker website Gazette otherwise the Johns would have to find them some other way. Good grief.

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