On Sunday David Flory, a 68-year-old Fairleigh Dickinson University physics professor from Manhattan, walked into an Albuquerque Starbucks while on a trip to his Santa Fe vacation house. That's where Albequerque police put him under arrest for allegedly operating an online prostitution ring where about 200 prostitutes served some 1,200 johns. Today, police nabbed a second academic, 71-year-old University of New Mexico professor emeritus F. Chris Garcia, who was once president of the university, for allegedly helping Flory run the operation.
Flory, a specialist in particle theory, and Garcia, who was a political science professor, worked with five other people to operate the Web site, Southwest Companions, police told the Associated Press.
Police said Garcia used the online handle "Burque Pops" and was trying to delete his postings and other information linking him to the site.
He was accused of being part of the "hunt club," whose job was to look for new prostitutes. Police declined to release the ages of the women targeted.
The operators also used the site to build a database of undercover police officers to help members recognize them and avoid arrest, police said.
Flory, who has taught at Fairleigh Dickinson since 1969, allegedly helped organize the human-resources end of the site, the AP reported.
A specialist in elementary particle theory, Flory also spent a decade in the school administration, where he said he spent time working on human resource database systems and measuring academic productivity — skills that were evident from the three-tiered system police say he created for rating the privileges of johns who used the prostitution service.
According to Reuters, which cited Albuquerque Police Lt. William Roseman, that hierarchy system made the ring's operators feel immune to infiltration. "Trusted "johns" could move up in status through certain acts with prostitutes, he said. The highest level of access included a rating system for prostitutes, as well as detailed information about prostitution stings, with the names of arresting officers and other operation aspects." The investigation has apparently been going on for months, the AP reported:
Police said the site was started in 2005 by Cara Garrett, who first tipped off vice officers after she was arrested on drug, child abuse and prostitution charges in December. Garrett was arrested Wednesday in Roswell for investigation of threatening another informant in the case.
Police said she sold the site in 2007 to another suspect, Mike Dorsey. He then sold the site in 2009 to Flory, police said.
Oddly, Flory told police he wasn't in it for the money. "He flat-out told us his thing was he wanted to create a safe place for prostitutes and johns to get together. He called it a hobby," Roseman told the AP. There's no such admission reported from Garcia, and in a strange twist, it doesn't appear the two even knew each other. Roseman said the academic link was "purely coincidental."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.