Vehicles seized in prostitution crackdown

Published: Apr. 22, 2008 at 9:06 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 23, 2008 at 9:29 PM CDT
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MLGW workers and an off-duty Memphis firefighter were among those snared in a Memphis Police Department crackdown on prostitution.

Memphis Police Director Larry Godwin said at a press conference Monday that dozens of people were charged with patronizing prostitution in the undercover sting, dubbed "Wheels for Deals."

"All arrests were in one and a half miles of a nearby school," Godwin said.

Additionally, 39 vehicles were confiscated under a Tennessee law that allows the seizure of vehicles used in a sexual offense.
The sting even ensnared two MLG&W employees.

"Devon Hamilton and Edward Rogers were on duty for MLG&W driving a large MLG&W truck when they approached vice officers and offered a $100 dollars for sex," Godwin said.

Police say Randall Sowell had his seven year old daughter with him when he approached an officer posing as a prostitute. It was her birthday and her new bicycle was in the back seat of this car.

"It was his daughter's birthday," Godwin said. "The daughter's birthday present was a bicycle.  It was in the back of the car. The officers transported the daughter and the bicycle to the grandmother's house."

Off duty fire fighter Edward Smalls, with the fire department ten years is relieved of duty with pay after his arrest for patronizing prostitution.

"In addition to being charged with the crime of patronizing or promoting prostitution. they also face their vehicles being seized and forfeited to the state of Tennessee," Gibbons said.

Police hope confiscating the vehicles will be a strong incentive to keep people away from prostitutes. Business people and neighbors in the Lamar area hope it works.

Click here to send an email to Janice Broach.