Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Now This is Thinking Outside of the Box

NY Assemblyman Wants to Tax Patrons of Strip Bars

ASSOCIATED PRESS
March 11, 2009

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — You might call it a "pole tax." The New York legislator who brought the nation its first law against driving while using a cell phone is proposing a $10 tax for patrons of nude and seminude dance clubs and strip bars.

Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, a Bronx Democrat, says the revenue would go toward helping victims of human trafficking at a time when government budgets are being slashed.

The bill doesn't have a Senate sponsor yet.

In Texas, state lawyers are fighting to preserve their $5 "pole tax," a cover charge on strip clubs, is being challenged by business owners.

The Texas Legislature approved the fee in 2007, hoping to spend the money on sexual assault and health insurance programs, but a judge declared it unconstitutional. The state is appealing.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Miami Beach man faces federal pimping charges

Miami Herald
Posted on Mon, Feb. 23, 2009

By EVAN S. BENN

Federal investigators charged a Miami Beach man with running an escort service that took advantage of immigrant women by forcing them to work as prostitutes.

Rafael ''Marco'' Bernabe-Caballero served as pimp of MiamiUltimate.com, flying women from Miami to hook up with johns in Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, Cleveland and Washington, D.C., according to a 20-page indictment unsealed last week.

It wasn't until the women were in their hotel rooms and johns were on the way that Bernabe-Caballero told them they had to perform sexual acts in exchange for cash, investigators said. The women were required to have sex with as many as 10 men a day.

''If women refused or resisted, Bernabe-Caballero made various threats to coerce their compliance, such as he would cause the women or their families to be harmed or killed or he would report the women to immigration officials'' if they were not citizens of the United States, the indictment notes.

After the sexual encounters, the women were required to wire 40 percent of the money they earned plus traveling expenses to Bernabe-Caballero. Investigators found wire transfers of $225 to $1,800 from various Michigan cities from March 2007 through November 2008.

Bernabe-Caballero, 34, remained without bond in Miami's Federal Detention Center Monday night and was scheduled for a 10 a.m. hearing Tuesday about extradition to Michigan, where the grand jury in the case had convened. Bernabe-Caballero's attorney, Rene A. Sotorrio, declined to comment about the case.

Also charged in the MiamiUltimate.com escort sting: Michael Porru, a Maryland man who worked in cahoots with Bernabe-Caballero by posting positive online reviews of MiamiUltimate's escorts in exchange for sex discounts, the indictment alleges.

Porru and Bernabe-Caballero also are accused of exchanging e-mails where they discussed starting a new escort service together in the Washington area.

Bernabe-Caballero, who has a listed address at 25th Street and Collins Drive, does not have a criminal record in Miami-Dade County, records show.

C 2009 Miami Herald Media Company. All Rights Reserved.