Prostitution Ring Busted In New Orleans, Biloxi, Other Major Cities - - The News for South Mississippi

Prostitution Ring Busted In New Orleans, Biloxi, Other Major Cities

Fifteen people, including three generations of women from the same family, were indicted Tuesday on federal charges of operating a nine-city prostitution ring based in New Orleans for more than seven years.

According to an indictment handed up in New Orleans, the ring also operated in New York, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, Biloxi, Miss., Houston and Grand Rapids, Mich.

Biloxi police say they were not involved with the investigation.  A Gulfport police investigator says his department did assist the New Orleans police department with an undercover operation recently, but he did not know if it was related to the indictment.

Its primary location was allegedly a two-story, Victorian house on Canal Street where the operators were a woman, her daughter and her granddaughter, said acting U.S. Attorney Jim Letten.

"We're not only talking about high-priced call girls, we're talking about a bordello, a house of ill repute in each city,'' Letten said.

Beginning in late 1994, prostitutes traveled from state to state, working for different madames, the indictment alleged. Letten would not reveal how much money the ring took in, but called it "substantial.''

"That's a long business life for something like that,'' Letten said.

The ring apparently operated without detection until January 2001 when an informant contacted New Orleans police, Letten said. The FBI and police conducted the investigation with the help of other agencies and used wiretaps, he said.

Charges included conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of a prostitution enterprise, interstate travel in aid of racketeering, conspiring to launder money, money laundering and conspiring to possess marijuana with intent to distribute.

"This crime is one of the vilest forms of racketeering there is,'' said Assistant U.S. Attorney Sal Perricone. "That is exploitation of women for the sake of a buck.''

Letten identified the women who allegedly ran the New Orleans brothel as Tommie B. Taylor, 62; her daughter, Jeanette Maier, 43; and Maier's daughter, Monica Renee Montemayor, 25. Others indicted included Charles Lee, 44, Anna Yeung, 54, Paula Cherish, 37, Cathy D. Rogers, 51, Yvonne Ramirez, 51, Libbe Siskind, 51, Joanne Hansen, 67, Tiffany Lynn Mitchell, 23, April Dawn Smith, 34, Loretta Mims, 62, Kathleen Ann Pustay, 35, and Ralph Wadleigh, 54.

Prosecutors said the customers of the alleged ring cannot be prosecuted under federal law. Those charges would have to be filed by state prosecutors. Letten said arrest warrants were issued for the defendants who lived outside of New Orleans.

Taylor, Maier and Montemayor were issued orders to appear later this week before a federal magistrate.

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