Philadelphia cops arrest 9 in airport-hotel prostitution stings

Arrested (from left): Sherri Perkins, Laura Holland, Joseph Stalfire, Jennifer Henderson . . .
Arrested (from left): Sherri Perkins, Laura Holland, Joseph Stalfire, Jennifer Henderson . . .
Posted: August 20, 2010

A few unhappy endings occurred around Philadelphia International Airport Wednesday, and it had nothing to do with missed connections.

Police arrested nine people in a prostitution sting using Craigslist and City Paper advertisements to target hookers who frequent airport hotels.

Capt. Dan MacDonald III, commanding officer of the 12th District, which covers Southwest Philadelphia and the airport, said that there's been an uptick in crime at airport hotels over the last six to eight months that can be linked to prostitution.

"This violence has resulted in numerous robberies, assaults and one homicide all directly related to prostitution going on at Philadelphia airport hotels," he said.

Arrested Wednesday were six women and three men who were charged with prostitution and criminal solicitation. The men were driving the women and picking them up from their appointments, police said.

One hotel was used for the sting, but police declined to disclose its name or location.

Lt. Charles Green, commander of Citywide Vice, said that prostitution at airport hotels "appears to be rather extensive" and that it sometimes becomes violent. If a prostitute sees a client as an "easy mark," she or her pimp may rob or assault the man once he is in a compromising position, Green said.

"We hear it a lot that it's a victimless crime," Green said. "It's not a victimless crime."

In December, Kalif Lewis, 26, a "john," shot to death Tyre West, 28, a "pimp," at the Residence Inn near the airport, police said. Lewis had accused a prostitute of stealing $100 from him beyond the $100 he paid for her services, and when West came to the prostitute's aid, Lewis shot him to death, according to police.

MacDonald said that the hotels are not willing participants to prostitution and that his district has begun a program to educate hotel employees on how to spot prostitution and drugs.

Charged on Wednesday with prostitution and criminal solicitation were:

Charisma Norman, 25, of Philadelphia; Christine Hunter, 21, of Drexel Hill; Laura Holland, 43, of Philadelphia; Christopher Powell, 28, of Philadelphia; Clarence Norris, 39, of Philadelphia; Edith Massie, 44, of Philadelphia; Jennifer Henderson, 28, of Bridgeton, N.J.; Joseph Stalfire, 67, of Plymouth Meeting; and Sherri Perkins, 23, of Drexel Hill.

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