According to Southampton Town Police, members of the Community Response Unit, assisted by patrol officers, conducted a reverse prostitution sting, during which an undercover female police officer posed as a prostitute and was solicited for sex or other sex acts.
The sting targeted the Riverside area in response to community complaints about frequent streetside prostitution, police said.
For months, members of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association have been vocal about the prostitution they say is taking place in broad daylight on the streets of their community.
On Sunday, Vince Taldone, FRNCA president, responded to news of the sting.
"I am very pleased that the police department is being responsive to the community. And I am particularly happy to learn that the sting targeted the johns who often escape any responsibility for this crime."
He added, "I'd like to see the johns sentenced to providing some kind of support for the victims of their efforts — the prostitutes and the neighbors. The manner of this sting shows the sensitivity of our police, who clearly understand how complex the problem is for all involved. I applaud and thank our law enforcement team for its work."
The sting netted five men, who all agreed to exchange money for sex or other sex acts with the exception of one, who agreed to exchange narcotics for sex, police said.
Three of the men arrested were from Riverside, one was from Hampton Bays, and one was from Southampton. All were charged with patronizing a prostitute in the third degree, a class A misdemeanor.
Two of the men were also charged with unlicensed operation of a vehicle, an infraction; both were operating vehicles when they approached the officer and neither possessed a valid driver’s license, police said.
Charles J. Hightower, 55, of Riverside, was additionally charged with criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree, a class B felony, criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree, a class B felony, and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the seventh degree, a class A misdemeanor, authorities said.
Police said Hightower allegedly possessed a quantity of cocaine with the intent to sell, and made a sale of the cocaine during the prostitution bust.
In addition, police said, Hightower is currently on parole, having been released from prison in June.
He also has an active bench warrant for his arrest from the Southampton Town police for disorderly conduct from a prior incident in Bridgehampton, police said.
All five men were transported to Southampton Town police headquarters, where they were processed and either held for arraignment or released after posting bail.