In Sarasota, Florida, a public bus driver is picking up a lot more than passengers. 43 year old Rodrigue Macharie was caught in a police sting operation at 9:45 Thursday morning. Macharie was driving the county SCAT vehicle, a transport for special needs passengers, and solicited a young women, who turned out to be an undercover officer, running a prostitution sting operation. Macharie was arrested at U.S 41 and 42nd street, resulting in administrative leave pending investigations.
The pick up.
According to Sgt. Demetri Konstantopoulos, of the Sarasota Police Department, said Macherie showed up in the county vehicle and in his county uniform. While on duty, Macherie engaged the undercover, a deal was made — $20 U.S.– and Macharie was popped for illegal solicitation of a prostitute. Showing some respect for the uniform, Macherie was not carrying passengers at the time of of the transaction. His bosses would not appear on camera, but they will be closely watching the investigation. Macharie had a spotless record before his arrest.
Police efforts to crack down on prostitution.
The police department has been cracking down on prostitution in this area. Jay Patel owns a hotel just feet away from where the sting took place. Patel has been working with the city for years to try and straighten up the area. Patel sees the future, he sees the opportunity for redevelopment, and is glad the police department is doing things to restore this city.
Two other men were arrested during the operation, 39 year old Robert Ware and 42 year old Fernando Vidal-Cabrera, both for solicitation for prostitution; Ware was also arrested for Possession of Crack Cocaine and Possession of Paraphernalia. This is an ongoing effort between police officers and locals to get their city back on track.
What is the Florida law on prostitution?
Florida defines prostitution as “the giving or receiving of the body for sexual activity for hire.” There is a wide variety of acts which fall under this category. Participating in prostitution itself is unlawful, Florida also prosecutes, setting up meetings or appointments for the purpose of prostitution; along with solicitation, acts to persuade or convince another to participate in prostitution, to include the purchase of prostitution services.
There are only two defenses to prostitution; sexual activity was not conducted for hire or entrapment by an undercover police officer. Florida state laws increase the penalty for prostitution offense when there were prior offenses. The first offense is typically charged as a second degree misdemeanor, which can result in sitting in prison for up to sixty days, and possibly, a $500 fine. A third offense can result in a third degree felony and you will potentially face up to five years in prison and a the fine may increase to $5000. Now, if the person you are soliciting is under the age of 18, then there you’re looking at a second degree felony, which can result in a 15 years prison sentence and a possible fine of up to $10000. Be sure to check Florida statutes Sections 796.03-796.09
Where can one find legal help?
A little loneliness can turn into years of isolation. We all make mistakes, and this one could cost you fifteen years of your life. If you were involved in a prostitution sting, or just got caught with a prostitute, our attorneys have experience helping clients fight their charges. If you are facing serious jail time because of an arrest for a prostitution related crime, give us a call so we can discuss your case and see what potential defenses may be available to you.