Police: Sarasota hotel employee booked rooms for prostitutes - WRBL

Police: Sarasota hotel employee booked rooms for prostitutes

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Mehul Patel Mehul Patel
Enriquez, West and Wilson booking photos Enriquez, West and Wilson booking photos
Sarasota hotel where police say Patel works Sarasota hotel where police say Patel works
North Tamiami trail, where police are cracking down on prostitution North Tamiami trail, where police are cracking down on prostitution
News Channel 8 talks with Mehul Patel News Channel 8 talks with Mehul Patel
SARASOTA, FL (WFLA) -

Sarasota police arrested a hotel clerk for allegedly allowing prostitutes to check in and use his hotel rooms for business.

Officers have been cracking down on prostitution along North Tamiami Trail lately. They recently received a tip that a hotel clerk, 33-year-old Mehul Patel, was knowingly allowing prostitutes to stay, and he acted as a lookout to warn them if police were nearby.

During an operation targeting prostitution in February, an undercover officer went to the Sarasota Airport Hotel.

According to the affidavit, the officer posed as a prostitute and approached Patel.

The affidavit states that the officer made comments that would blatantly make it known that she was a prostitute, and even provided documents to show she had engaged in prostitution.

Police say Patel gave the undercover officer a room, and he "agreed to 'warn' [the officer] if the police arrived at the hotel."

"Anytime law enforcement would come on the property, he would give them a phone call, letting them know that we were there. Just kind of a heads up," said Sarasota police Sgt. Demetri Konstantopoulos.

On May 7th, Patel was arrested and charged with a felony charge of deriving support from the proceeds of prostitution. He also faces two misdemeanor charges. 

Patel has since bonded out of jail.

In an interview with News Channel 8, Patel denied that he ever allowed prostitutes to stay in his hotel.

"I was surprised and I don't know anything about these charges," he said.

Patel says he’s been in the business for around 15 years and has never had this situation happen before.  He says he plans to fight the charges.

Patel says it’s possible some of his guests may have knowingly booked a room then invited prostitutes inside. He denies acting as a lookout.

Three other men were arrested in the undercover sting. Manual Enriquez, Joaevan West and Jay Wilson have all been charged with Solicitation of Prostitution. In addition, three vehicles were seized under city ordinance including a full-size dump truck, police say.

Sarasota police say they will continue to investigate local businesses and patrons who take part in prostitution.

Sgt. Konstantopoulos said, "You're rolling the dice if you're going to come to the North trail and participate in any prostitution acts."

Police officers are committed to cleaning up North Tamiami Trail. They're going after the patrons, business owners, and they're going after the prostitutes themselves.

Instead of simply incarcerating the prostitutes, police say they will put them into rehab programs to get them off the streets.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.


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