Prostitution ring detailed in court docs.Posted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- Phoenix police and FBI agents arrested one man and several women during a raid on a Phoenix a business they described as a "house of prostitution" Thursday.
Police say the business, which is located on 40th Street south of University Drive, has been operating for a year under the name New Media Studios. It advertises itself as a self-serve pornography business.
"For $140 for 30 minutes, they would allow customers to come and pick a female and have sex while still photos and videos were taken," Sgt. Steve Marts of the Phoenix Police Department said.
According to public information filed with the Arizona Corporation Commission in January 2012, Mesa residents William and Misty Hartwell are the owners of New Media Studios, L.L.C.
Police said William Hartwell, 52, ran the operation. The women were acting as prostitutes in his employ.
Court papers released Friday showed more detail as to how the operation was running. The documents said the business advertised jobs and its services on backpage.com, an inexpensive classified advertisement website.
A female undercover officer infiltrated the operation according to court documents, pretending to be interested in a job advertised online.
The undercover officer said in her report that Hartwell told her it was a good place to work. According to what Hartwell told the officer, customers would come in and take off their pants for a visual check of their private parts. This, Hartwell reportedly told the officer, always weeded out any potential undercover cops.
According to the court papers, the customer would pay up to $200 for a pornographic photo or video shoot. As part of the package deal, the customer could then select any of New Media’s “models” and have pictures and video shot with him fulfilling a sexual fantasy with the woman.
Hartwell told the officer the so-called model would get a 40 percent cut from each customer, with the opportunity to earn additional money by selling the pictures and video to the customer after the shoot.
People working at nearby businesses told 3TV they knew something fishy was going on.
“[I] saw a lot of people in and out - a lot of girls in short skirts, a lot of guys in and out. It was pretty weird to witness to be honest,” said a man who didn’t want identified but told 3TV he had been doing contract construction work on a nearby business.
The witness said on average during the day he would see one or two men walk into the reported house of ill repute. He said it got busier at night.
“Higher end business type of guys, coming in taxis, probably from the airport out of town,” said the man.
The business had been operating for a little more than a year when it was busted. The Phoenix Police Department and the FBI had been investigating the business for six months before gathering enough evidence to serve a search warrant.
There were no customers inside the business during the raid.
Police identified the women arrested as Michelle Marchetti, 24; Shelby Dunn, 20; Tammie Torres, 23; Adrianna Aguirre, 22; Danielle Bell, 20; and Amber Mackenzie, 25.
All of the people arrested Thursday night are facing multiple charges, including prostitution.
Police say more arrests are possible as the investigation progresses.