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Elwood is a census-designated place in the Town of Huntington in Suffolk County, on Long Island, New York. Its population is approximately 11,600. The county has been known as the site of relatively larges scale, organized international prostitution or “escort” rings, as well as low-level local and regional operations facilitated initially by Craigslist and Backpage (and other websites since those two sites came under scrutiny of law enforcement and legislators, the latter being dismantled), related violence, and the laundering of money gained through prostitution and sex trafficking. In 2018, the Suffolk County Police Department announced that it had established a permanent human-trafficking investigation unit that would focus on those who lure women, girls, and boys into commercial sex, often to support other criminal activity, such as drug dealing or gangs. The team was initially staffed by six detectives, including a commanding officer, and two police officers, and had been operating as a temporary unit since May 2017.
Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. Demand reduction tactics used in the town include reverse stings, the disclosure of sex buyer identities, and employment loss. In July, 2020, a man filed a complaint with the Suffolk County Police Department alleging that he had been the victim of an extortion scheme involving prostitution. At that time, he gave a sworn written statement to detectives, in which he stated in the relevant part “I have not sought the services of prostitutes or call girls.” During an investigation conducted with the assistance of the DEA’s Long Island Heroin Task Force, the man contacted a woman whom he had previously patronized for purposes of prostitution, but whose phone was then in the possession of law enforcement. Thereafter, in October, 2020, an undercover police officer posing as a prostituted woman contacted the man, who agreed via text message to unlawfully provide the undercover police officer with oxycodone pills in exchange for sex. He was arrested at the arranged meeting location—a parking lot behind a shopping center on Jericho Turnpike in Elwood—in his County-issued vehicle. He was found in possession of two 30-milligram oxycodone pills which he possessed without a prescription. Following his arrest, the investigation revealed that he had previously patronized prostituted women, revealing the written statement he made to detectives to be false. He was arrested and charged with a variety of offenses, and in October, 2022, pled guilty to the crimes of Tampering with Public Records in the First Degree, and Patronizing a Person for Prostitution in the Third Degree. The proceeding took place the Suffolk County Supreme Court. Following the guilty plea, the offender was sentenced to a one-year term of interim probation which includes a term of imprisonment of six months and 420 hours of community service. If he successfully completes the interim probation period, the felony charge will be dismissed and he will serve an additional two-year term of probation on the patronizing charge. The man was a physician, and a further condition of his plea, the offender agreed never to re-apply for registration as a physician with the DEA to prescribe controlled substances.
- Suffolk County Police Department
- Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office
- Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office
- DEA Long Island Heroin Task Force
Arrest of Sex Buyer, Identity Disclosure, Community Service, Employment Loss:
- https://abc7ny.com/dr-william-spencer-doc-huntington-suffolk-county-doctor-arrests (2020)
- https://huntingtonnow.com/spencer-arraigned-on-multiple-drug-prostitution-charges (2021)
- https://www.audacy.com/li-lawmaker-indicted-on-prostitution-drug-and-other-charges (2021)
- https://www.cbsnews.com/r-will-spencer-pills-for-sex-scheme-oxycodone-suffolk-county-legislator (2021)
- https://www.kttn.com/former-legislator-pleads-guilty-patronizing-a-prostitute/ (2022)
Background on Prostitution in the Area:
- https://www.nytimes.com/li-millionaire-s-newest-venture-was-oldest-profession-police-say (2001)
- https://apnews.com/article/ (2001)
- http://www.babylonbeacon.com/news/2006-06-09/Front_page (2006)
- “Undercover Investigation into Prostitution Leads to Four Arrests”, Suffolk Police Blog, November 3 2011.
- http://babylonvillage.patch.com/articles/three-flushing-women-arrested-in-massage-parlor-raid (2011)
- https://libn.com/babylon-shuts-down-massage-parlors/ (2011)
- https://patch.com/new-york/babylonvillage/the-police-blotter-june-13th-through-june-19th (2012)
- http://www.newsday.com/long-island/suffolk/cops-3-arrested-at-west-babylon-massage-parlor (2012)
- “8 Arrested in Suspected Drug, Prostitution Ring”, ABC/WABC-TV 7, August 13 2012.
- https://pix11.com/five-alleged-gang-members-accused-of-running-prostitution-ring-on-long-island/ (2018)
- http://longisland.news12.com/3-women-arrested-on-prostitution-charges-at-suffolk-massage-parlor (2019)
- http://www.townofislip-ny.gov/islip-town-acts-quickly-to-shut-down-drug-prostitution-den (2019)
- https://patch.com/4-charged-suffolk-prostitution-money-laundering-ring-scda (2020)
- https://dailyvoice.com/three-women-nabbed-in-long-island-massage-parlor-raid-after-community-complaints (2020)
- https://suffolkcountyny.gov/four-individuals-arrested-operating-prostitution-money-laundering-enterprise (2020)
- https://www.newsday.com/long-island/crime/massage-parlors-centereach-search-arrests (2020)
- https://dailyvoice.com/woman-charged-with-prostitution-after-raid-at-long-island-massage-parlor (2021)
- https://www.cbsnews.com/newyork/news/dr-will-spencer-pills-for-sex-scheme-oxycodone-suffolk-county-legislator/ (2021)
- https://dailyvoice.com/woman-charged-with-prostitution-after-illegal-nesconset-massage-parlor-raid (2022)
- https://www.smithtownmatters.com/two-arrested-for-prostitution-at-health-spa-in-nesconset (2022)
- https://patch.com/new-york/huntington/suffolk-arrest-report-june-24 (2022)
- https://www.longisland.com/woman-arrested-for-massage-parlor-prostitution.html (2022)
Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:
- “Sex Trafficking and Forced Prostitution in Long Island”, Examiner, August 10 2009.
- https://www.newsday.com/long-island/suffolk/human-trafficking-investigation-suffolk (2018)
- http://longisland.news12.com/police-2-men-charged-in-suffolk-sex-trafficking-case-involving-a-child (2018)
- https://abc7ny.com/2-charged-in-li-sex-trafficking-involving-12-year-old-girl (2018)
- https://www.shorenewsnetwork.com/2020/12/07/hempstead-man-indicted-for-sex-slavery-prostitution-in-suffolk-county/ (2020)
- https://www.longislandpress.com/2020/01/13/long-islands-human-trafficking-crisis-thrives-in-shadows (2020)
- https://dailyvoice.com/new-york/suffolk/news/long-island-man-indicted-for-alleged-sex-trafficking-operation (2020)
- https://www.justice.gov/suffolk-county-man-convicted-manhattan-federal-court-sex-trafficking-conspiracy (2021)
- https://www.justice.gov/usao-edny/pr/long-island-gang-member-indicted-sex-trafficking-and-sexual-exploitation-minors (2021)
- https://www.innovateli.com/souls-for-sale-tracking-trafficking-on-long-island (2022)
- https://www.shorenewsnetwork.com/convicted-attempted-sex-trafficking-attempted-kidnapping-unlawful-firearm/ (2022)
- https://newjersey.news12.com/coram-man-convicted-of-attempted-sex-trafficking-faces-life-in-prison (2022)
Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:
- Long Island Serial Killer, Wikipedia.
- “Local Prostitute Identified by Police as Murder Victim”, New York Times, October 23 1969.
- “FBI Examines Man’s Computer for Clues in New York Serial Killer Investigation”, FOX News, April 15 2011.
- “Long Island Serial Killer Hunt: Police Release Sketches of Victims”, ABC News, September 20 2011.
- “Police Locate 2 More Bodies Buried on L.I.”, New York Times, June 30 1993.
- “Police: Prostitutes Had Ads on Craigslist”, Schenectady Daily Gazette, June 10 2006.
- “Other Cities Taking Aim at Highrise Prostitution Dens”, Toronto Star, November 11 2006.
- “Without a Serial Killer, Dead Prostitutes Just Don’t Matter”, Long Island Press, January 27 2011.
- Kolker, R. (2013). Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery. New York: Harper Collins.
- “Victims’ Families Never Gave Up Hope”, Newsday, July 22 2014.
- “Wood Chips Bolster Case against Long Island Man Accused in 20-Year-Old Murders”, New York Daily News, July 31 2014.
- “Arrest of Convicted Pimp Renews Attention to Unsolved Murder of Scarborough Woman,” Portland Press Herald, November 4 2015.
- https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-dirty-cop-and-the-hunt-for-the-long-island-serial-killer-of-prostitutes (2021)
- https://nypost.com/gilgo-beach-murder-victim-seen-in-new-video-released-by-long-island-police/ (2022)