Her quest for Phils tix led to 'buckets' of humiliation

Finkelstein
Finkelstein
Posted: March 30, 2010

All she wanted was some "cheap World Series tickets" to see the Phillies last year, but instead Susan Finkelstein got arrested for prostitution.

And then she watched as her story became an international water-cooler joke.

But, the self-described "independent thinker" has a different take on the journey to her trial, which ended last week. A jury on Thursday found Finkelstein not guilty of prostitution, but guilty of attempted prostitution. Finkelstein, of Southwest Philadelphia, faces a minimum of probation and a maximum of one year in jail.

Her lawyer, William J. Brennan, said yesterday that he expects to file post-trial motions by the end of the week, including one requesting a mistrial.

It's been no Swiss picnic for the Temple University graduate.

Finkelstein, 44, has read the nasty comments about her age and appearance on the Internet since her arrest. "It's very painful to be attacked personally . . . all the things women don't like to be attacked about," she told the Daily News in a conference room at Brennan's office.

She said she "suffered buckets and buckets of horrible humiliation" when her co-workers at the Wistar Institute at the University of Pennsylvania found out about her arrest on a charge of promoting prostitution - before she could tell her bosses. (She was later terminated from her communications job.)

And Finkelstein heard testimony from a Bensalem Township Police officer stating that she called herself a "prostitute" and a "whore" when they met at Manny Brown's in Neshaminy Mall to talk about the tickets. Finkelstein denied in court that she ever used those words to describe herself.

Finkelstein and her husband Jack LaVoy, deeply devoted Phillies fans, were desperately seeking Series tickets, but the going rate of $1,000 a ticket or more was way out of their league. They decided they could only pay up to $500 each for a chance to see the Phils.

Finkelstein said she got the idea to write a Craigslist ad from scouring other ticket Web sites which offered services for tickets. In the wink of an eye, the English major wrote an ad that caught the eye of a Bensalem cop supervising the Special Investigations Unit.

Under the For Sale/Wanted section, she listed "DESPERATE BLONDE NEEDS WS TIX: Diehard Phillies fan - gorgeous tall buxom blonde - in desperate need of two World Series Tickets. Price negotiable - I'm the creative type! Maybe we can help each other!"

At trial, Finkelstein said: "I didn't put too much thought into the ad. It was open-ended. People can read whatever they want in it . . . I think I wrote the ad in about 20 seconds."

Yesterday, she said: "Nothing I did rose to the level of prostitution, certainly. I put a funny ad in that was misconstrued and came out with double-entendres that I didn't think too much about or intended to act on."

She does admit that she was willing "to flirt with them" to get a cheaper ticket price.

Sgt. Robert Bugsch, on the prowl for potential sexual crimes, typed the word "blonde" into the Craigslist search engine and found Finkelstein's ad, according to court testimony. The two began corresponding and he immediately asked Finkelstein for pictures of herself, and she complied.

Finkelstein sent him nude torso photos taken at work, where she had written the ad. Bugsch set up a meeting with Officer Michael Brady in Bensalem and, after a 15-to-30-minute chat, Finkelstein was arrested.

She was home by midnight and told her husband of the ordeal.

"I never thought in a million years that it would go outside the confines of my house."

But that it did.

The news of the arrest was released and a news conference was held about her charges. The world was then knocking on her door.

"The media slant was this was a bizarre story and the way the media covered it there was this presumption of guilt," she said. " 'Can you believe this woman did that?' Not, 'Did this woman do that?' "

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