Branford police are continuing their investigation into the “business” of prostitution at Marlow’s Health Studio after arrests stemming from their Dec. 2 raid. Information from craigslist led police directly to Marlow’s, where a house of prostitution was allegedly operating openly at a popular town mall.
Six people were arrested, including the co-owners, Jazmin Benavides and Howard Johnson. Two additional arrests were made Dec. 31: George Mihalakos, 40, of 815 Whitney Ave., New Haven, and Matthew Rourke, 41, of 320 Plaza Dr., Middletown. Warrants had been issued for their arrests, and they turned themselves into police. Rourke was charged with patronizing a prostitute. Mihalakos was charged with criminal attempt to patronize a prostitute. They were at Marlow’s when the raid took place.
According to police Lt. Geoffrey Morgan, police will work until they’ve exhausted all leads. “They’re analyzing company records and documents, interviewing past employees and patrons so they can make a determination of any other illegal activity and apply for arrest warrants,” Morgan said.
Morgan would not reveal how many records are being examined, but police were seen carrying away numerous boxes at the time of the bust. He said the co-owners were cooperating “in the beginning.”
The investigation is being headed up by Lt. John Finkle, who is on special assignment with the department’s detective division.
“We have interviewed a number of associates of Marlow’s Health Studio since the December 2nd raid,” he stated in a press release. He added that Mihalakos and Rourke “were actively involved soliciting sexual contact with the workers of Marlow’s at the time.” More arrests are expected.
Police are investigating as far back as the records take them in terms of patronizing prostitutes (a Class A misdemeanor) and promoting prostitution (Class B, Class C or Class D felonies) and the statute of limitations, which, according to Morgan, can range from one year to five years.
“There are lots of records,” he said.
Morgan said that every community has some degree of prostitution. “It’s a matter at what point the community wants to address it,” he added. “I’d like to think we’re proactive—we want to try to eliminate quality of life crime—-this is a prime example that needed to be addressed.”
In terms of the amount of prostitution activity in Branford, Morgan said there are known areas in town with so-called “quality of life” problems. This means, he said, assigning officers to those areas, typically motels near the TA Truck stop area as well as the Truck stop area itself.