BREWER, Maine — Fees a group of local erotic dancers reportedly charged for sex could easily cover the fines associated with the crime, according to figures released by police and the Penobscot County District Attorney’s Office.
While the fine for promotion of prostitution can be up to $2,000 and a year in jail, the last person prosecuted in Penobscot County paid a $500 fine in April 2008, Assistant District Attorney Jim Diehl said on Tuesday.
Six women and Michelle Powers-Jenkins, 42, of Orland, who is the owner of a decade-old escort service called Cinnamon’s Sweets, each have been charged with promotion of prostitution stemming from a sting operation at a Wilson Street motel late on Thursday.
The women told the undercover officer in the Brewer Police Department sting that their “services” cost between $200 and $1,000, Brewer police Detective Sgt. Jay Munson said on Monday. Some of the female escorts offered a “flat fee” and others charged a fee for showing up and additional fees for extra “services,” including sex, he said.
“That is a pretty large amount of cash,” Munson said.
The women charged at the motel were Aimee Bernard, 19, Amanda Shaw, 29, Jolena Glidden, 25, Coleen Singer, 26, all of Bangor, Kimberly Oakley, 28, of Brewer, and Alicia Gray, 23, of Kenduskeag. Powers-Jenkins was charged Friday night after her Orland home was raided.
Promotion of prostitution is a Class D misdemeanor.
Suspected clients, whose names were collected during the search of Powers-Jenkins home, also may face charges, said Diehl, who added, “I am [now] being contacted by various attorneys.”
“And as the investigation continues, there may be evidence that leads us to other crimes,” he said. “It’s a matter of going through the evidence and seeing what results.”
Police have yet to determine how much each woman was making on a weekly basis, Munson said on Tuesday, adding, “I don’t know how many shows they were doing.”
The women were advertising on Craigslist or other Internet sites, some under the heading erotic services.
Even though prostitution is the “world’s oldest profession,” the number of people charged with prostitution or promotion of prostitution across the state has been relatively low, according to data compiled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s uniform crime reporting program.
In Maine, the FBI report indicates that for 2007, 42 people were charged with prostitution or commercialized vice; 2006 netted 28 charged; 2005 had 18; and 2004 listed a total of 30. The data, which is provided by law enforcement agencies statewide on a voluntary basis, dates back to 1994, and the highest number of incidents occurred in 1997 when 99 people were charged.
“Personally, in the last several years, there were four that I’m aware of,” Dielh said.
Between 1994 and 2004, the number of arrests for prostitution nationally ranged from a low of 73,800 in 2003 to a high of 100,200 in 1997, the FBI data states.
The real work starts now as the local criminal prosecutor and police begin the work of reviewing all of the evidence collected, which includes video and audio surveillance tapes from the motel room, and journals and credit card receipts collected from Powers-Jenkins’ home, Munson said.
“It will be a while before we sift though the documents,” he said.
The client names will not be released unless someone is charged, he said.
When asked whether prostitution was a problem in Bangor, Diehl referred to a column about local history published Monday in the Bangor Daily News. In the piece, columnist Wayne Reilly described how Bangorians in the early 20th century were fed up with vice, including so called “scarlet ladies.”
“In 1909 there was the same problem,” Diehl said. “Is it new? Of course not. It’s the oldest profession in the book.”