PORTLAND — Cumberland County law enforcement agencies announced 11 arrests Thursday in an Internet prostitution sting focused on suburban towns.
Seven men, all but one from Maine, were charged with engaging a prostitute, a misdemeanor. Four women, all from Maine, were charged with prostitution, also a misdemeanor.
Sheriff Kevin Joyce said the sting began with investigators making calls to arrange appointments with escorts who advertised online at Craigslist.com and Backpage.com. The women were arrested after money was exchanged, Joyce said.
The men were arrested Tuesday after responding to online advertisements by a female sheriff’s deputy who posed as a prostitute. The men went to a hotel complex, where they paid money for prostitution services, police said.
Another half-dozen men showed up, but did not go through with a cash transaction and were not arrested.
Police from Yarmouth, Bridgton, Brunswick and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office were involved in the operation, in response to their concerns that sex trafficking is on the increase in their communities.
Joyce said prostitution has moved into the suburbs and rural Maine because of the Internet. “Prostitution is no longer a city problem. It is an everywhere problem,” he said.
Dozens of people responded to the prostitution ad by email, telephone or text message within 90 minutes of its posting online, Joyce said, and another 100 replied over the next two days.
Yarmouth Police Chief Michael Morrill said prostitution is increasing in his community, and several men have reported being the victims of theft after responding to an online escort service.
Law enforcement officials said they don’t expect the sting will stop prostitution in Cumberland County. “Maybe this will slow it down or drive it elsewhere,” Morrill said.
Charged with prostitution were Angela Cloutier, 26, of Bridgton; Carolyn Deberry, 32, of Gray; Norma Jean Greenleaf, 43, of Brunswick; and Samantha Pecoraro, 26, of Yarmouth. Greenleaf also was charged with drug possession.
Charged with engaging a prostitute were Newell Perkins, 69, of Ogunquit; Spencer Richie, 49, of Woolwich; Todd Donatello, 49, of Falmouth; Eric Mayo, 25, of Saco; Chadd Roper, 32, of Kennebunk; Joseph Miller 45, of Portland; and Erick Van’Savage, 50, of New Hartford, N.Y.
All were released from the Cumberland County Jail except Mayo, who is being held on a parole violation. They are scheduled for arraignment in Portland District Court on Oct. 12. If convicted, they face fines of up to $1,000 and as much as a year in jail.
Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at: