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Five charged in Cayuga County prostitution ring

Sheriff David Gould reports that the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office has made multiple arrests following an investigation that resulted from a vehicle and traffic stop in the Town of Scipio. On Monday at approximately 10:30 pm a Patrol Deputy with the Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office observed a suspicious vehicle on Center Road in the Town of Scipio. The vehicle was stopped and the driver was found to be operating with a suspended license as well as a suspended registration. Upon further investigation it was found that a female passenger in the car had been driven to Center Road in Scipio to engage in prostitution. Additional passengers were found in the car as well as evidence of narcotics use. A subsequent investigation by Detectives led to the arrest of the male subject that had solicited the subject engaging in prostitution to come to his home. It appears that he did answer an online ad and did solicit the subject via telephone. Charged were: Stephen Bertonica, age 56 of 1789 Center Road in Scipio, was charged with patronizing a person for prostitution in the third degree, a Class-A misdemeanor, after it was determined that Bertonica did solicit and pay a female for sex. He was arrested on Wednesday and released with an appearance ticket returnable to the Scipio Town Court on April 11th at 6:30 pm.Desirae Gradel, age 19 of 618 West Street in Ithaca, was charged with prostitution, a Class -B misdemeanor, after it was determined that she did engage in prostitution. She was arraigned in the Moravia Town Court and released. Kevin L. Vanderpool, age 27 of 1529 Halsey Valley Road in Spencer, was charged with conspiracy in the sixth degree, a Class-B misdemeanor, after it was determined that he agreed to assist with transporting another to provide prostitution services. Vanderpool was arraigned in the Moravia Town Court and was ordered to be held in the Cayuga County Jail on $500 cash bail or $1000 bond. Brandon J. Thigpen, age 31 of 873 Cobb Street in Groton, was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation in the second degree, driving with a suspended driver’s license, and conspiracy in the sixth degree, B misdemeanor, for providing transportation to another for the purposes of engaging in prostitution. Thigpen was arraigned in the Moravia Town Court and ordered to be held in the Cayuga County Jail on $500 cash bail or $1000 bond. Constance Benjamin, age 32 of 873 Cobb Street in Groton, was charged with conspiracy in the sixth degree, B misdemeanor, for agreeing to assist with transporting another to provide prostitution services. Benjamin was arraigned in the Moravia Town Court and released. Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to contact Detective Sergeant Fred Cornelius at 315-253-6562. You can also contact Detectives via our website at www.cayugacounty.us/cayugacrime/Crime-Tips. YOU CAN REMAIN ANONYMOUS. Sheriff David Gould – (315) 253-4337

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