Those days of yore for the NYPD vice squad are long gone. But back when I started selling ads to New York’s escort community, the vice squad allegedly held a license to print money – if you were to believe what a bunch of escorts had to say. Which I did.
When busting a whore house (or massage parlor or whatever), the police are supposed to seize and voucher everything they find which is involved in the commission of a crime. And that means paperwork, computers, phones and (hello) money! Seizing the appropriate materials was easy and happened on almost every bust. Vouchering? Take a wild guess.
Almost from the day I got the job at Action, girls related stories of cops taking their money and not vouchering the seizure. I took their testimony with a grain of salt just as I did similar tales of a certain comedian being very active in the transsexual community. But eventually with both, the number of narrative lines became so convincing and corroborative that I truly accepted the veracity of the girls’ statements. In my mind, there was no doubt that So-and-so was paying trannies for their time…and cops were walking with the girls’ money.
One story in particular struck me. The vice squad busted a place where the relater worked and told all the girls to remain in the main room while they adjourned to one of the bedrooms. As phone girl and de facto boss on the premises, the girl walked into the bedroom to ask a question of the officers and caught them dividing up the money they’d just seized. I had to ask myself “Why would the squad be dividing house money destined for the department?” I could draw but one conclusion.
These stories abounded for years and culminated in the early 2000’s when according to my Korean clients, the boys really went over the top. As foreigners, Asian girls either couldn’t open a bank account – or didn’t want to – and would thus hide their cash in the house…inside toilet paper rolls or even in fake hair spray cans with tops that unscrewed to reveal hiding places. Often, I’d be handed money which was all curled up. I didn’t have to ask how it happened after a while. I knew.
Anyway…do the math and you can imagine how much money the cops were walking with. Into 5 figures! Sometimes they’d voucher half the money. (I guess to cover their asses as I’m sure the department superiors expected the boys to net something from the arrests. Seized hooker money goes to the department and not the city treasury. It was a source of revenue.) But just as often they’d voucher none of it!
At about the same time as all this came to a climax (couldn’t resist), the Head of Classifieds at the NY Press introduced me to the paper’s editor suggesting that I write something about the business for the publication. While brainstorming with Harry, I mentioned the then current situation whereupon he suggested I write something on the subject. That would be easy.
The next day he had the feature in his email box. “I WANNA BE A VICE COP” related the story in an irreverent manner during which I fantasized about busting the girls…taking their money…and then dating them once they’d been sprung (the latter another not very rare circumstance).
Having friendly relationships with several people at The Press, I mentioned to one of the employees that I would be writing the cover story for the next week’s edition and related the subject matter. So interested was she in reading it, I faxed the article over to her. And after receiving it, she left same on her desk. Shortly thereafter, the CEO of the corporation walked by her workspace…saw and read the piece…and then asked her what it was that had just made his heart stop. Once informed, the boss marched into the editorial offices and declared “This can’t run in my paper. The cops will throw all our boxes in the East River!”
The next day I got the call from Harry that the feature was off. And three days later, the entire NY Press editorial staff resigned. Whether the piece ran or not was irrelevant. While researching the subject, I’d discovered that a dungeon phone girl with whom I was friendly had a good female friend who was way up the food chain at the NYPD. That phone girl asked some pointed questions on my behalf and let her police chief friend know that the NY Press would be running an article about cops stealing hooker money.
I don’t know if the boss censuring my article had anything to do with the entire Press editorial staff walking. And similarly, I don’t know if my research and pending story had anything to do with the vice squad ceasing their MO. I can only tell you that after that episode, I simply never heard anything about vice cops stealing money from hookers ever again.
Was (and am) I a hero for real? Hard to say. Did any of the girls ever thank me for my possible role in saving them from losing all that money? I think y’all know the answer to that one. I don’t think I ever actually ran the story on this blog. Just too chicken shit. I did publish it on some obscure website and of course, the DA found it – to my embarrassment. That much I can tell you!