Police eye future operations after arrests in Laurel prostitution sting -- Gazette.Net


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Ten men were arrested for allegedly soliciting prostitutes in north Laurel during the Howard County Police Department’s second undercover prostitution sting of the year, taking a U.S. Food and Drug Administration official into custody among other suspects.

According to Howard County police, William Howard Maisel — the FDA’s deputy director for science — was among those arrested in the July 13 sting operation that was done along the U.S. Route 1 corridor.

Maisel, 46, of Kensington was charged with four counts of prostitution and one count of disorderly conduct and is set to appear in Howard County District Court Sept. 20 for a preliminary hearing.

Erica Jefferson, acting deputy director for public affairs for the FDA, said Maisel’s job status has not been affected in light of his alleged involvement in prostitution solicitation.

“This is a personal matter and unrelated to the work of the FDA or Dr. Maisel's work at the agency,” she said in an email Thursday. “Dr. Maisel is employed by FDA and has been working.”

The police operation involved female officers working in plain clothes in areas targeted by resident complaints. The undercover officers were on the street in the area to determine whether they would be approached and offered money for sexual acts. Those who approached the officers and made such offers were arrested and charged with solicitation of prostitution among other related charges, Howard County police said.

Defense attorney information for Maisel was not listed with the courts Wednesday, according to online Howard County District Court records.

Calls to Maisel’s listed residence were not returned Thursday.

The Prince George’s suspects charged in the July operation include Miguel Barbosa-Palacios, 37, of Riverdale; Preston Harrison McGriff, 38, of Laurel; Jose Quintanilla-Rivera, 38, of Laurel; Victor Manuel Mendez, 24, of Riverdale and Steven Albert Bartimo, 37, of Laurel. Other men charged were from Glen Burnie, Gwynn Oak, King George, Va., and Jessup.

Attorney information for the other charged suspects were not listed with the courts Thursday, according to online Howard County District Court records.

The first prostitution sting operation for 2012 occurred May 3 and netted eight arrests in the U.S. Route 1 corridor in Laurel. Those men arrested were from Laurel, Silver Spring, Columbia, Charles City, Va., Takoma Park, Germantown and Rockville.

Sherry Llewellyn, a Howard County Police Department spokeswoman, said prostitution is a significant issue in north Laurel because there are so many people traveling along the Route 1 corridor, including to and from a large truck stop in the area.

“We do these operations regularly to send a message that this is unacceptable in Howard County and to make the county an unattractive place for people who want to engage in these activities,” she said.

Llewellyn said Howard County police will continue to conduct the undercover operations regularly as an attempt to eliminate ongoing prostitution concerns in the area.

Howard County police are asking residents to call 410-313-STOP to provide any tips or information relating to prostitution.

djgross@gazette.net