The case of a Manhasset restaurateur accused of patronizing a prostitute as part of the recent “Flush the Johns” sting operation was tossed by a judge earlier this month after prosecutors who said they did not have enough evidence to take the case to trial requested a motion for dismissal.
It was the fifth related case to be tossed, but a spokesman for District Attorney Kathleen Rice’s office said prosecutors still await further motions in three cases and do not consider the rulings to be final.
Efforts to reach the restaurateur’s attorney, Sal Marinello of Garden City, were unavailing, but he told Newsday his client’s arrest harmed his marriage and that he plans to sue Rice for malicious prosecution and civil rights violations.
Marinello said his client and a friend were arrested May 15 and each charged with third-degree patronizing of a prostitute when the friend had to make a stop at a motel to meet with someone while on their way to a birthday celebration.
“My client walked into the room. He used the bathroom,” Marinello told Newsday. “As soon as he came out of the bathroom, the undercover police officers jumped out of the door and they arrested him.”
Marinello told Newsday his client did not pay or offer to pay for sex and that police did not have evidence to support their allegations.
In a statement, Rice spokesman Shams Tarek said, “While there was probable cause to arrest both defendants in this unique-dual-defendant case, the DA’s Office conducted its own investigation and moved to dismiss the charges against one of the two defendants after finding a lack of sufficient evidence to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The rest of the case continues. Patronizing prostitutes is a serious crime and after six convictions resulting from this sweep, and almost 100 cases still pending, we will continue to prosecute fairly and to the fullest extent of the law.”
The arrests of 104 men as part of operation “Flush the Johns” were announced in June. Rice received criticism in wake of the announcement because the names and photographs of the accused were released.
According to the district attorney’s office, fewer than 40 suspected johns were arrested in the last 10 years.
Reach reporter Bill San Antonio by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 516.307.1045 x215 and on Twitter @ bill_sanantonio. Also follow us on Twitter @theislandnow and Facebook at facebook.com/theislandnow.